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A Review of the Article "Anthropology of Structural Violence by Farmer (2004)"

Updated on September 18, 2021
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Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.


The study on the contemporary anthropology evaluates on AIDs and tuberculosis in the rural Haiti in connection with the social and economic structures. A case of syncretic and also that of biosocial anthropology reveals in the manner which inequality and poverty lead to different risk for injection and severe outcomes such as death (Farmer, 2004). In this regard, it becomes important to have a linkage with this type of anthropology with epidemiology and also with the knowledge of varied accessibility to new diagnostic and therapeutic equipment.

A wide knowledge on the today's epidemics of AIDs and tuberculosis in the post-colonial era needs in-depth knowledge of the past and political, economic environment. The resurgence and existence of these epidemics in Haiti that experiences wide cases of deaths on young population are because of the tolerance on the impacts of the expansion of Europe in the New World (Farmer, 2004). Also, it has its association with slavery and racism effects. Meanwhile, that discuss on this type of structural violence have relied on history, biology and the prevailing economic environment. In this regard, it becomes very vital on evaluating on how human beings make sure that both history and biology leads to straining of an honest way of assessment of the social life.

In the period of 1980s, there was a hypothesis that was going on in the US that HIV entered the country through Haiti. However, the disease could have spread in other directions. AIDS that is presently in Haiti is close to proximity instead of distance. For instance, it has its tales of relationship with the US instead of Africa. Secondly, the AIDS affecting Haiti has a lot of association with trade and tourism in the developing country when compared with the social nature of the Africans (Farmer, 2004). On a third note, by applying data on trade in undertaking an assessment of the Caribbean basin nations' reliance on the US at the period when HIV emerged in the area, reveals that five nations that have strong relationship with the US are also the same countries that have higher degrees of HIV menace (Farmer, 2004). Fourthly, Cuba remains the only nation that has no close linkage with the United States. In consequence, cases of HIC are very low in the country. Lastly, AIDS has always had from the time being a profound impact on the kinship structure.

The truth is that both AIDS and Tuberculosis just like the act of slavery in the olden days are affected by economic environments. Instances such as social inequalities are the major causes of the structural violence. Likewise, race, gender disparity, and poverty have a relationship with the social plans and programs that vary from slavery to the present desire for growth that is unbridled (Farmer, 2004). On the same note, there is need to give consideration to the following aspects as well about the same. First, though it may not be justifiable to cause changes in the attitudes, the change in attitude itself does not lead to the occurrence of things. Secondly, money and the political desire are necessary for handling problems that are related to both AIDs and tuberculosis. Thirdly, it is vital to ensure the accessibility of therapy to people who need them urgently while not just giving favor to a few individuals (Farmer, 2004). The last consideration is that infrastructures in the sector of health are not enough in many countries that have been severely affected by HIV.

The Unfamiliar Argument: By what ways and means do AIDS and Tuberculosis share relationships with poverty and inequality?

The relationship between poverty and diseases that are communicable is clear evidence of the cursory practice within cartography (Farmer, 2004). Many nations that register higher income per capita often experience longer life spans among their inhabitants. Though there are cases of some low incoming lots like Cuba or India, these cases are only a representation of important exceptions f the philosophy (Farmer, 2004). In this regard, one asks then the linkages between poverty and ill health and also the way it is possible to break the vicious cycle of destitution and sickness.

Indeed poverty is the major risk factor that leads to the acquisition and finally succumbing to diseases all over the globe despite receiving less attention by the medical team in comparison to the risk factors within the environment (Farmer, 2004). Many factors lead to this kind of oversight. First, the state of a person being poor does not fall into the category of disruption of the daily physiological operations. In this regard, often medics consider themselves as those ill equipped in understanding or manipulation of a person's level of sociology and economy. On a second note, unlike the efforts dedicated to reaching technical solutions for the health problems affecting a given a population, financing for research that leads to understanding and alleviation of instances of poverty has been scarce (Farmer, 2004). Thirdly, there are those who agree that poverty has a major role in the determination of vulnerability of a given disease and its outcomes, the final solutions that have their objective in addressing poverty were initially mostly wrongheaded. For instance, programs on structural advancements had their objectives towards the increment of growth in GDP but entailed of a lot of austerity measures like reduction in spending from the government, devaluation in currency and cases of privatization. Such cases of the shift in the macro economy entailed inter-temporal trading activities; that is again on the temporary basis for long-term gains. In consequence, they led to the ignorance on the path self-reliant nature of healthcare (Farmer, 2004). Where a child failed to be given a vaccination, a pregnant mother, on the other hand, did not access antenatal care; TB clinic never had drugs and as a result posting severe health consequences that stood the chance of reverberating generations of the future.

Another linkage between poverty and diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS that are evident among the medics in the increment in exposure to these communicable diseases and also the unavailability of medical care upon infection. For example, to avoid the recurrence of typhus, there is need to have the right medication that also matches with the social environment of the affected community (Farmer, 2004). The same should also entail the characterization of efforts that are deficient of the same palliative. As much as these may appear to be daunting, it is these very words that lead to the inspiration towards the creation of the social medicine field that today are part of the modern epidemics. The latest outbreak of cholera in the country offers a good example. During this period, the ministry of health in the country noted that there were close to 2100 deaths, 44, 000 admissions that in this case summed up to 92,000 cases of cholera in the country. Deaths from cholera outbreaks often take place within a period of two hours at the onset of its symptoms and especially also where there are no life-saving gadgets such as oral rehydration solution (Farmer, 2004). A move to disentangle the terrible health condition of Haiti from the past, politics and economic concerns result into the classification of the epidemic as a medical menace that emanates from twin natural disasters that the country experienced; the earthquake and hurricane flooding due to Hurricane Tomas. Despite this, there is a narrative that utilizes phrases like medical and natural to imply the inevitability case and the general case of inculpability. In this regard, a more cautious manner of reading the context where the cholera outbreak has taken place gives a proof of on the traditional views that are misleading.


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