Anthropologists have studied and concluded that there are many varying perspectives and beliefs in defining what good health looks like within different cultures. While some views on healthcare are shared, some are quite different in their culture’s approach. For example, childbirth in the US is often viewed as an emergency medical event (medicalization of a natural human biological function) involving a hospital, various pregnancy specialists and quite often pharmaceuticals. It is important to realize that some births may be more complicated that others that may require a allopathic medical doctor to perform specific procedures to ensure the safety of the mother and infant child. Other developed countries like Holland and Sweden use the hospital but with less specialist intervention. Cultures within Yucatan Mexico use their homes and family members in the birthing process more similar to how humans have given birth for thousands of years of human history (James, 2020).
Interesting to note and requiring further discussion is that, the US is far behind other countries in the use of midwives for delivery of babies than most other wealthy and developed nations, in spite of the US by far having a higher infant mortality rate in recent years. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation, however…..
I think it is important to understand why the US has moved more towards medical physicians, pharmaceuticals and surgeries not only for childbirth but for many if not most health issues, ailments and diseases. Basically, we have been sold that western medicine is better than alternatives and often methods that have been time-proven for many years past, e.g. diet vs. pills. Severe trauma, yes use a medical doctor; high blood pressure, anxiety, depression – check your food intake, exercise, activity and stress levels.
“Several important milestones happened in the early part of the 1900’s that had a profound impact on midwifery: The 1910 Flexner Report recommended hospital deliveries and the abolition of midwifery. The study has since been recognized for its racist, sexist, and classist approach to medical education”
“A stark divide began to take root in the 1800’s, when white male physicians began to explore childbirth with greater interest. Their approach was based on a colonialization framework, which devalued birth as ceremony and focused instead on the physical aspect of wellbeing.
Many doctors opposed midwife-assisted births. They launched campaigns against the profession, promoting Western science and the pain relief that hospitals could offer. By the turn of the century, they attended approximately half of births, despite having little training in obstetrics.
In rural America, however, midwives continued to attend births. In the Southern states, Black midwives, sometimes called “granny” midwives, attended up to 75% of births until the 1940’s. A combination of laws, educational restrictions, and campaigns against the profession led to the dismantling of their practice” (A Brief History of Midwifery in America | OHSU, n.d.).
So here we are once again, especially over the last 3 years, that the US medical community and astonishing US politicians often tout how great the US’s healthcare system is at providing the best, the safest, the most effective, the most innovative and best technological healthcare in the world. Do your own research and you will find out that the US is often none of these aforementioned. The charade, the fallacy, the wizard behind the curtain, is often the way the US healthcare system works. It is indeed not “healthcare” but “sickcare”.
James, R. (2020, July 24). Medical Anthropology 101 [Movie]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SvvLnrk77I
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