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Welcome to Research in Anthropology and Sociology of Health (RASH)

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology has initiated an interdisciplinary programme

focusing, in its teaching, on the social factors and cultural context of health and, in its research,on the intersecting fields of knowledge and experience in order to improve the health of South Africans, in particular, those with chronic illnesses.

 

 Research in Anthropology and Sociology of Health (RASH)

 

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology has initiated an interdisciplinary programme focusing, in its teaching, on the social factors and cultural context of health and, in its research, on the intersecting fields of knowledge and experience in order to improve the health of South Africans, in particular, those with chronic illnesses. The programme is premised on the idea that opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaboration in the field of health is both a macrolevel concern with regard to the socio cultural foundations of health and a micro-level concern

identifying “proximal” risk factors such as individual lifestyles in terms of food consumption and medicinal herbs in the management of diseases.

In 2008, RASH has established a working relationship with traditional health practitioners (THP) involved in the management of HIV/AIDS patients who participate in clinical trials concerning the use of Sutherlandia. RASH is part of the multidisciplinary 20 million rand European Union grant to the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute (SAHSMI) for clinical trials within the wider health care provision in South Africa.

The following research fields are included under RASH:

1. The Making of an African Medicine: Exploratory study of the clinical trials of sutherlandia lessertia frutescence (led by Diana Gibson)

This study investigates the process of the making of an African medicine. It focuses on the clinical trials of sutherlandia lessertia frutescence and explores how the trials shape assemblages of knowledge, the process of knowledge transformation in South Africa and the effort to integrate

lessertia frutescence as therapy into conventional health care.

2. The Social Effects of Surviving Cancer (led by Kathy Nadasen)

The aim of this research is to explore the initial concerns and fears of women on being diagnosed with breast cancer and the long term effect on them. It examines the “lived experiences” of breast cancer survivors and the strategies employed in coping with breast cancer.

3. Primary Health Care and Women in Cape Town (South Africa) and Harare (Zimbabwe): A Comparative Study (led by Diana Gibson)

This comparative study is to ascertain how the policies and delivery of Primary Health Care (PHC) goals affect women in two neighbouring southern African countries. It interrogates PHC programmes to ascertain how it makes assumptions about or reinforce the gendered dimension of community health care and the related responsibilities of women.

4. HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme: Evaluation of Outcomes of Traditional Healers’ Training on HIV/AIDS (led by Olajide Oloyede)

This study aims to evaluate the outcomes of CDC-PEPFAR training workshops for HIV/AIDS prevention. It measures the effectiveness of the Traditional Healers” Training on HIV/AIDS prevention in terms of the pre-post changes in client’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, or practices that reduce a person’s health risk. The first year of the project involves the implementation of intervention taxonomy to elicit detailed information on the characteristics of the clients and strategies used to deliver prevention messages by traditional healers. The second year involves the development of a standardised survey instrument to administer to the clients of traditional healers on a pre-post basis.

5. The philosophy and environment of clinical trials of herbal plants: A case study of South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute (led by Olajide Oloyede)

This study aims to build a general picture of the environment in which clinical trials are offered and administered. It describes the context setting that was undertaken when designing the first pilot study of the safety of sutherlandia frutescence and examines how and why the context setting was undertaken focusing on important aspects of the culture and organisation of clinical trials.

6. An ethnographic study of the knowledge of medicine, including rituals and practices of traditional health practitioners who provide traditional medicines (led by Olajide Oloyede and Diana Gibson)

This study aims to establish the knowledge of medicines administered to clients by traditional healers. It focuses on selected medicines and examines how such medicines are understood and subsequently administered as part of the therapeutic process in traditional medical practice.It highlights the rituals that form part of the healing process.

7. Masculinity and HIV/AIDS (led by Sakhumzi Mfecane)

This study examines the social construction of masculinity and how it shapes the ways HIV positive men respond to their illness and diagnosis of HIV as well as their treatment choices.

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