Cholera: Anthropology and Epidemiology

Haiti suffered the biggest outbreak of cholera in human history and what happened there demonstrates the larger picture of this disease: the political and social aspects of it, and the fear and suspicions it instils in an entire society. The work surrounding the quest for a cure for infectious diseases is mainly a medical one while the social aspects of a disease is the task of anthropology. This essay is about the history of medical anthropology and the importance of not just the clinical side of an epidemic but of the human side as well. The case-study is cholera and all the problems it brings, but also the problems that cause it. Despite the fact that cholera is a preventable disease, people in the thousands die because of it every year. Its impact is most severe in countries with poor sanitation, poor access to medical care and poor knowledge about how to prevent it. This paper will explore the evolution of cholera and the contribution of medical anthropology to the field of epidemiology.

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