Wollega University, Medical Anthropology: Enchala Godesso (MMA)

March 24, 2017 (GMN) - Ethiopia is one of the developing countries. She is endowed with diverse cultures.

In this diverse culture, there are different indigenous knowledge/traditional medicine and health system/which help to solve some of the health problems. Ethiopian health policy has given attention to integrate both traditional health systems with that of modern health care system. In the policy, special attention is given to the health needs of:- the family particularly, women and children, those in the forefront of productivity; those hitherto most neglected regions and segments of population including the majority of the rural population, pastoralists the urban poor and national minorities. Furthermore, the policy gives emphasis to:-the control of communicable diseases; epidemics and diseases related to malnutrition and poor living conditions; the promotion of occupational health and safety; the development of environmental health; the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, health service management system. Almost all of the above mentioned issues which are central to the national health policy need anthropological skill and knowledge.

Wollega University is one of the youngest universities in Ethiopia which had been operational since 2006 E.C.  The University is working towards the achievement of the country’s development goal by producing competent and responsible graduates both in undergraduate and post graduate levels. The programs are designed based on the market, policy and development demand of the country. Furthermore, the University emphasizes on new and innovative programs so that the country would be benefited. Accordingly, the masters program in medical anthropology is one of the new programs in Ethiopia which is launched under college of health and medical sciences of the University. Masters in medical anthropology is the first in its nature in Ethiopia. Wollega University, which is icon for quality, has taken pioneering role in developing curriculum for masters program in medical anthropology in 2013/2014 academic calendar.

Roles of Medical Anthropologists

Public Health Area

Ø  Design primary health care  programs and coordinate community development

Ø  Develop immunization, family planning, and infant and maternal health programs

Ø  Develop culturally based drug abuse rehabilitation  and prevention programs

Ø  Perform health education and preventive medicine

Ø  Perform epidemiological studies and community assessments

Ø  Provide health policy analysis and advocacy

Ø  Supply international health and international  medical relief (aid)

Ø  Perform health systems integration  (traditional and modern)

Physical and Biological Areas

Ø  Provide nutritional anthropology: diet, culture, and infant nutrition

Ø  Perform genetic anthropology and human genome studies

Ø  Perform forensic anthropology, skeletal analysis, and medical examiner work

Ø  Study ethno-pharmacology and traditional healing practices

Ø  Study evolution of the body in relation to disease and healing responses

Ø  Create cross-cultural human development

Ø  Study culture, drug use, and drug reactions

Clinically Applied Anthropology

Ø  As cultural consultants and advisors, and sometimes as therapists, engage in mediation

Ø  Serve as advocates, reformers, institutional change agents

Ø  Serve as policy makers and program developers

Ø  Perform program needs assessment and evaluation

Ø  Teach trans-cultural nursing and trans-cultural psychiatry

Ø  Identify culture-based mental disorders and “culture bound-syndromes”

Ø  Identify or develop “cultural healing”; psychological, social, and mental healing processes

Ø  Study cultural anthropology of ethnic health practices

Ø  Develop alternative or complementary medicine traditions in the diversified societies

 Institutional Analysis and Culture Change

Ø  Mediate between different groups and conceptual systems (patients and providers)

Ø  Facilitate relations among staff (doctors, nurses, therapists, administrators),

Ø  Represent community groups, organizers, advocates, and social reformers

Ø  Perform research , assessment, and evaluation

Ø  Develop programs and educate staff

Ø  Serve as ombudspersons (patient advocators)

Ø  Provide institutional assessment and organizational culture studies

Ø  Assess politics and economy of medicine

Ø  Enhance provider-client relations

Ø  Training health care providers in cultural sensitivity and competency

Ø  Mediating among the different community segments and between providers and clients

Ø  Researching health threats and responses in a community

Ø  Develop policies and programs to create culturally responsive health programs

Ø  Participating in advocacy and community empowerment to ensure the development of responsive programs

 The author can be reached @ Enchala Godesso <enchalago@gmail.com>