While one might initially presume an article about polio would belong to the field of biological anthropology; I feel that it can be argued that this topic intersects with both the biological and cultural anthropologic fields. As the researchers gained an understanding of why polio has yet to be eradicated in Pakistan, it became clear that some greater cultural issues, like mistrust in the healthcare system, are responsible for the continuation of the disease.
The article Why Eradicating Polio Is More Complicated Than It Seems explores the reasoning behind why polio has yet to be eliminated in areas like Karachi, Pakistan. It begins by talking about a woman who was visited by vaccine administrators who wanted to administer an oral polio vaccination to her son. She is a college educated woman and she trusts vaccines as a valid medical tool but does not have faith in the people going door-to-door trying to provide them. People in Karachi and places in Africa fear that these drops are presented as a vaccination but are actually something intended to sterilize children. The author follows by stating that their government would need to begin to prioritize essential healthcare in order to create trust. The issue with this lies in the reality that this would be costly to implement.
The people living in this area endure inadequate sanitation systems and drinking water contaminated with feces. Often times, bodily emissions line alley pathways in shallow ditches. As a virus that is spread by oral contamination from fecal matter, polio is easily spread in areas with conditions like that of those in Karachi, Pakistan. While most people infected with polio only experience symptoms similar to that of the flu, some can suffer harsh effects potentially resulting in death. Pakistani government has greatly prioritized government spending on national defense spending a measly 3.7% on health care services resulting in severely inadequate services for their people. The health centers that are available are unable to properly serve patients with doctors spending a mere minute with each person. The city has phenomenal services for affluent members of the society but the majority cannot afford these services. These types of practices are exactly why mothers like the one mentioned at the beginning of the article are wary of traveling vaccinators.
Polio was expected to be eradicated by the year 2000 with the date being pushed back multiple times. Currently it is projected to be eliminated by 2021. The authors conclude the article by saying for the polio issue to be solved, the greater problem in Pakistan of inadequate services for their citizens needs to be fixed. They included a call to action for international donor agencies to put an emphasis on providing these people with key health necessities. iv. The article addresses ethnocentrism by saying many people living in countries such as our own may think that the Pakistani people who refuse the vaccine are being nonsensical. By practicing cultural relativism and curbing judgment, the researchers eventually found that these parents have logical and rightful reasoning behind their apprehension. Researchers in this article employed the qualitative research method when trying to understand parent’s rationale for not allowing their children to receive the vaccination. They interviewed over 300 individuals in 7 different countries to eventually find that mistrust was the root cause of the denial for vaccines. Using the comparative method, researchers were able to look at different areas and deduce that areas with inadequate healthcare systems had the greatest number of parents firmly rejecting the treatment for their kids. They are concerned that the vaccinators have ulterior motives.
At the end of the article, the authors included a disclaimer stating that names of individuals in the article were changed to protect their privacy. This shows that the researchers and authors were conscious of the ethics at play and their responsibility to uphold confidentiality.