The Social Inequality of Disease Distribution

Seeking to move beyond the analysis of individual risk-taking behaviors and psychosocial variables in the study of epidemics, critical medical anthropologists (beginning in the 1980s) have called attention to the ways in which political economy, class, and gender create unequal vulnerabilities and responses to disease and death. Poverty, racism, and oppression are shown to shape the contours of morbidity and death statistics through the unbalanced distribution of medical services and political and economic barriers to prevention and care. In those studies, disease control programs are critically appraised. Linkages are made between global capitalism and individual affliction and between individual human agency and the structural factors that constrain it (e.g., Farmer, 1992, 2001; Farmer, Connors, & Simmons, 1996; Kim, Millen, Irwin, & Gershaman, 2000; Singer, 1998). This body of work extends the social medicine tradition of Rudolf Virchow into ethnographic practice:

Medical statistics will be our standard of measurement: we will weigh life for life and see where the dead lie thicker, among the workers or among the privileged. (Virchow, 1848, quoted in Farmer, 2001)

The social roots of mass death from disease and the conditions that place individuals at risk in the first place are structural. Power relations, an important source of disease affliction, are slow to be acknowledged in public health discourse and action.

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.

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