Current Issues in Medical Anthropology and Global Health Seminar Series

Central Globe with Humans holding hands around it

Current Issues in Medical Anthropology and Global Health (MAGH) Seminar Series (ANTH 324/524)

During Autumn 2019, the Current Issues in MAGH seminar series will take place on Wednesdays 3:30-4:50 in Johnson Hall 102. While this is also a class for credits, everyone is welcome to attend. 

Speaker Line Up:

September 25  
Panel Discussion: Bonnie Duran, Sumaya Mohamed, and Jessica Lozano, with an Introduction by Dr. James Pfeiffer
“Decolonizing Medical Anthropology and Global Health?”

Abstract: We came up with this theme for the series, because we feel there is a deep need to uproot and reroute both anthropology and global health if they are to address their imperial and colonial past and present neo-colonial agendas and structures in real ways.  We ask ourselves and our guests, in what ways might a decolonizing framework facilitate the work of challenging the status quo, to create a society founded on equity, compassion and social and racial justice?  These guests each bring unique experiences, tools and perspectives that will help us generate a radical, critical, liberational and alter/native foundation and conversation about decolonizing anthropology and global health for the rest of the series.

October 2 
Mama AMMAAN team:  Muna Osman, Nafiso, Sumaya Mohamed, Somali Health Board Members                                   
“Safe Motherhood by the Community, for the Community: Towards a Decolonization of University/Community Partnerships."

Abstract: Southeast Seattle reports the highest rates of preterm/low birthweight babies, cesarean births, women receiving inadequate perinatal care and unmet mental health needs in Washington. These communities are located in a federally- designated Medically Underserved Area, indicating primary care service shortages. Factors proposed to explain perinatal disparities include: gaps in resettlement services for immigrants/refugees; lack of patient navigation support to access existing information, resources, institutions; social isolation; discrimination; linguistic/racial barriers to support- seeking; social-cultural distrust of dominant authorities, institutions and care-givers; scarcity of linguistically and culturally-appropriate care-providers, services and facility locations. Adequate perinatal care begins early in pregnancy and includes minimally 4 prenatal visits through services that are culturally accepted, seamless, and attend to biological and psychosocial well-being. The Group Prenatal Care (GPC) model promotes cultural congruence and social support. Efficacy derives from additional education time, skill-building, patient navigation support, and opportunities to learn from the experience of peers, as well as more face-time with community-based caregivers. The Mama AMMAAN (Safe peaceful motherhood) Project is a collaboration between Somali Health Board (SHB), Health Alliance International (HAI), Parent Trust (PT) and UW researchers to test the feasibility of a community-based doula and nurses-led, culturally-adapted GPC and Somali appropriate home-visitation service model. Using a multidirectional learning approach, we gathered baseline data to better deliver perinatal care services to immigrant and refugee families that often fall through the cracks of services, and to strengthening community researcher capacity to meet their own community's needs.   In this presentation we report back findings from qualitative research and implementation phases, and discuss how community-led, participatory research relationships can begin to decolonize university/community partnerships.

October 9 
James Pfeiffer, Professor of Global Health and Anthropology, University of Washington
 "NGOs and the Politics of Austerity in Africa: Decolonizing Aid to Health Services"

Abstract: In many African countries hundreds of health-related NGOs are fed by a chaotic tangle of Western donor funding streams. Some critics contend that channeling funds to western NGOs rather than local public health institutions constitutes a kind of neocolonialism putting finances and decision-making around health in developing countries in the hands of Western interests. The recent debates around the UN call for “Universal Health Coverage” (UHC) highlights how foreign aid and Western NGOs undermine local autonomy to build health systems to reach UHC. Mozambique provides an illustrative case. In the 1990’s, NGOs multiplied across post-war Mozambique as the country’s IMF-imposed structural adjustment program constrained public and foreign aid expenditures on the public health system while donors favored private NGOs.  In the 2000s, HIV/AIDS and other vertical aid funding from many donors increased dramatically. In 2004, the United States introduced PEPFAR in Mozambique at nearly a half billion dollars per year, roughly equivalent to the entire Ministry of Health budget.  To be sure, PEPFAR funding has helped put thousands on anti-retroviral treatment, but over 90% of resources flow “off-budget” to American NGO “implementing partners” with little left for Mozambicans themselves to manage their own health system.  After a decade of this major donor funding to NGOs, health system coverage has barely changed.  In 2014 the workforce per population ratio was still among the five worst in the world at 71/10000; the health facility/per capita ratio worsened since 2009 to only 1 per 16,795. “Decolonization” of health care will require rejection of austerity constraints on public sector health systems, and rechanneling of aid to public systems building rather than NGOs so that Mozambicans are in charge of their health futures. 

October 16 *CANCELLED*
Leah Isquith, Remitly
“Do No Harm and Try to do Some Good: Searching for Balance in Community-Based Research”
October 23 
Bettina Shell-Duncan, Department of Anthropology and Sarah Smith, Department of Global Health, University of Washington 
“Evidence to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting:  Conducting Research with Donor-Funded and African-Led Consortium”

October 30
Rachel Chapman, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington
“Austerity, Precarious Use and the Elusive AIDS-Free Generation in Mozambique”

November 6 
Cody McDonald, Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington
“Access to Prosthetics and Orthotics in Low and Middle-Income Countries”

November 13
Sara Breslow, Social Science and Incubators Lead, EarthLab, University of Washington
"When the Anthropologist becomes a Character: Perils and Possibilities of Research-Based Theatre"

November 20 
Damarys Espinosa, Co-Chair of Community Health Board Coatiion
“Everything is Medicine: Community Health Board Coalition and Organizing for Health Justice in Washington State” 

December 4 
Celso Inguane, Senior Fellow, Department of Global Health
"Ethnographic notes on ambitious ending AIDS targets and the production of circularity in Maputo, Mozambique"