The opening sentence of Paper Assignment #2 says, “Critical Medical Anthropology can be
defined as examining how political and economic processes affect disease, illness, and poor health.” It is
quite obvious that the world we live in is run by the political and economical processes, making Medical
Anthropology a key player in world society. According to Bezruchka and Mary Anne Mercer, the basic
necessities of life are “adequate food, clothing, sanitation, housing, and health care.” All of these
necessities can be directly related to a countries economical and political strength.
The amount of money a country has is a major factor in determining the health of its people.
Much of the world lacks the ability to provide any of the necessities crucial to leading a healthy life.
There are 3 billion people living on less than two dollars a day (Bezruchka, Mercer p.12). Obviously, the
two dollars a day doesn’t go towards healthcare. It goes towards food, water, shelter, and the absolute
essentials that these people need in order to just get by. Now, I’m not saying that if a country has an
enormous amount of money that it will be healthier. The United States has almost 50% of the world’s
wealth, and only 6% of the population.
The U.S. also accounts for close to half of the world’s spending
on health. In 2003, the United States spent $1.7 trillion on healthcare. Even though we spend this large
chunk of money on healthcare, the U.S. is ranked behind 25 other wealthy countries in life expectancy
(Bezruchka, Mercer p.12).
How is it possible that the United States has so much wealth, but low life expectancy compared to
other wealthy countries? Individual behaviors play a major part in good health. Because of our
economical strength, the United States tends to be reckless. Americans spend a huge chunk of their
income on providing adequate income for themselves and their families. However, these same people can
also be seen spending their money on cigarettes and fast food. It has been known that smoking is the
leading cause of preventable death, and diseases related to obesity are making their way to the top of the
list. According to the CDC, in a 2003-2004 survey, 32.9% of Americans were overweight or obese. This
means that almost one in every three Americans are at risk to hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and coronary