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‘Anthropology and medical sciences are twin studies’

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HONOUR: Shivaratri Deshikendra Swamiji of Suttur Math felicitating medical anthropologist R.K. Mutatkar at a national seminar on medical anthropology and health sciences in Mysore on Thursday. Also see are H.K. Bhat, general secretary, Society for Indian Medical Anthropology; Ishwara Bhat, acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore; and P.C. Joshi, Director of the Conference.
HONOUR: Shivaratri Deshikendra Swamiji of Suttur Math felicitating medical anthropologist R.K. Mutatkar at a national seminar on medical anthropology and health sciences in Mysore on Thursday. Also see are H.K. Bhat, general secretary, Society for Indian Medical Anthropology; Ishwara Bhat, acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore; and P.C. Joshi, Director of the Conference.

Special Correspondent

Conference to bring about greater integration between the two subjects

MYSORE: A two-day conference on medical anthropology began here on Thursday.

The objective is to bring about greater synthesis and integration in the field of medicine through various aspects of anthropology, according to the organisers, .

The conference is being conducted by the Society for Indian Medical Anthropology in association with the Department of Studies in Anthropology, University of Mysore, and the Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata.

Inaugurating the conference, Shivaratri Deshikendra Swamiji of Suttur Math said that Anthropology and Medical Sciences were twin subjects with the former dealing with the evolution of man. Unless medical scientists were aware of man’s socio-cultural behaviour and customs, they could not treat him for diseases, he added.

The seer called for integration of various fields of study and said that medical anthropology had special significance as its approach was both biological and cultural and hence more holistic.

Citing experts, he said that bio-medical anthropology and socio-medical anthropology had been identified for special study in the context of society and this needed to be strengthened in future.

Noting that the theme of the conference was of special significance in the context of Indian scenario, he said ideas and knowledge emerging from such conferences would not serve any purpose unless there was a continuous and sustained exchange of views and ideas between experts in medical sciences and anthropologists.

Director of the conference H.K. Bhat said that interaction between anthropologists and experts in health sciences was necessary to take steps to prepare plans for future integration of both fields.

Though man being a bio-cultural entity, modern medicine separated man’s body from mind, on the lines of Cartesian model. Although this dichotomy helped in the growth of medical sciences, it had also created serious problems in handling the health problems of the people. Here, anthropological approach of holism was relevant, Mr. Bhat said. The conference will focus on areas of common interest in research, teaching, administration and health care, medical pluralism and health seeking behaviour, culture, environment, disease and health, food, nutrition and human development, problems and prospects of health care in India and medical anthropology and disaster research. K.R. Mutatkar, a pioneer in teaching and research in medical anthropology in India, who was instrumental in establishing this branch of anthropology, was felicitated on the occasion. His work “Society and Leprosy”, published in 1978, was not only an eye-opener to the harsh realities faced by leprosy patients, but also an inspiration to medical anthropologists.

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