Skip to main content
Library homepage
Social Sci LibreTexts

8.4: Globalization and Health

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Epidemiologic Transitions

    New Infectious Diseases

    A disease that emerges within a population that is new or the number of infectious cases within a population or geographic area rapidly increases. Since 1940 over 300 new infectious diseases have been discovered, some of the most well known being severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), methicillin-resistant staph (MRSA), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Many drug-resistant strains of diseases are becoming more common and 71% of these new infectious diseases start in the wildlife. As globalization increases, infectious diseases will continue to affect a larger and wider population.[4] Classification of disease is as follows; an epidemic is a local outbreak of a rare disease. When this disease spreads through many human populations across a large region, it is then classified as a pandemic.

    Medical Pluralism

    The integration of biomedicine and other forms of health care. Examples of medical pluralism include taking antibiotics and vaccines upon acute trauma or infection, as well as relaxation rituals to decrease stress and improve mental health. Medical pluralism includes involving different wellness techniques to improve, maintain, and prevent overall well-being. In earlier times, medical pluralism was considered a war zone and was seen as "other" or alternative medicines therapies that were trying to take over. Today, medical pluralism is seen as a positive thing as it can provide multiple solutions/treatments to something [5]

    Diseases of Development

    The main causes of illness and death in developed countries are cancer and diseases of the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems. In the developing world, communicable diseases are the main problem, with deaths occurring primarily due to respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, infections at birth, diarrhoeal disease and tropical diseases such as malaria. Failure to use existing treatments effectively, inadequate or non-existent interventions, and insufficient knowledge of disease all contribute to damaged health.



    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Malaria

    Malaria is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes pick up malarial parasites from the blood of infected. While only one species of mosquito can carry the parasite, there exist four types of the malarial parasite leading to four types of malaria. Symptoms include fever, shivering, pain in the joints, headache, vomiting, convulsions, and coma. If an infected person is not treated, he or she can die.

    In recent years, globalization has increases the spread of malaria through travel, war, and urbanization. Persons traveling to countries which have a larger rate of malaria cases can become infected and carry the disease back to their country, and malaria-carrying mosquitos can stow away on international flights to bring the disease far from infected areas. War time refugees who spend long periods exposed to the elements and cross borders fleeing violence are more likely to come in contact with malaria-carrying mosquitoes as well.

    HIV and AIDS

    AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is an incurable disease that attacks the patient’s immune system. AIDS is caused by infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids by sexual contact, sharing needles, and coming into contact with infected blood. HIV/AIDS is a global disease where its highest rates are in poor countries that lack a developed health service. While the lifespan of an infected person can be extended via anti-retroviral drugs, the disease is ultimately fatal.

    Despite efforts in numerous countries, awareness and prevention programs have been unsuccessful in reducing the numbers of new HIV cases in many parts of the world where poverty and social mores increase peoples’ risk of infection. Even in countries where the epidemic has a high impact, such as South Africa and Swaziland, a large portion of the population do not believe they are at risk of infection. While initially, HIV prevention focused on preventing sexual transmission of HIV through behavior change, in more recent years it has become evident that HIV prevention requires interventions that take into account underlying socio-cultural, economic, political, and legal factors.


    Smallpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the Variola virus. Symptoms of the disease include hemorrhaging, blindness, back ache, and vomiting. The virus attacks the skin cells after an incubation period, causing pimples and pustules to form that can further spread the disease. Smallpox is easily transmitted through airborne pathways such as coughing or sneezing, as well as through contaminated bedding and clothing.

    Smallpox was a common disease in the 15th century in Eurasia, being spread by explorers and invaders such as Columbus. During the 16th century, Spanish soldiers introduced smallpox by contact with the Aztec natives in Tenochtitlan, causing a devastating epidemic that killed thousands. In 1617, smallpox reached Massachusetts and spread to Boston by 1638. Persons who fled after an outbreak in 1721 spread the disease to the other thirteen colonies. A vaccine was developed in the 18th century, and by 1979 the disease has since been completely eradicated globally.

    This page titled 8.4: Globalization and Health is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Wikibooks - Cultural Anthropology (Wikibooks) .

    • Was this article helpful?