Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who should provide standard to define illness and Disease

Young’s piece on Culture, illness got me thinking about three concepts he touched on.These include desocialization, biomedical reduction, and the dismissal of the other’s view as unscientific in our articulation of illness and disease. The three key words have one thing in common, the acclaimed supremacy of biomedical paradigm in our interpretation of illness, or better still the design of health interventions along the stipulations of biomedical paradigm. I use the term paradigm to mean the strongly held world views and beliefs that undergird scholarship or our beliefs that guide our interpretation of reality.
Desocialization is the displacement of historical, political, and economic determinants of sickness, while biomedical reduction entails using medical and empirical standard as a normative referent for evaluating what constitutes illness or disease (Young,1982).
As I reflect upon the arguments, two profound questions that resonate in my mind are: Is it right to incorrectly question non-Western belief system? Does such critique not raise an ethical quandary? If we agree with the views of Geertz that culture provides people thinking that are simultaneously models of reality, then such evaluation of the other or definition of illness using biomedical criterion raises an ethical dilemma,I believe. Betterstill, could the imposition of such supremacy or use of an external standard as a basis for intervention design lead to the achievement of desired results among populations with a particular belief system?
To answer these intriguing questions, I draw on the view of the author that in some kinship-based societies where the belief system differs, writing about sickness and illness using biomedical standards may be illogical.

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