Anthropology is at the forefront of the emerging sciences in medical disciplines. Medical anthropology investigates the socio-cultural aspects of health and illness in ancient cultures.
Medical sciences deal with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Since human health is based on both biological and cultural factors, it has close links with anthropology. In the fundamental medical sciences, general anthropology retained a leading role.
Similarities between Anthropology and Medical sciences
- Both study the medical systems of human populations.
- Biological anthropology and medical sciences study several common topics such as blood group systems, genetics, etc.
- Also, both have borrowed significantly from other fields like molecular biology and biochemistry.
Differences between Anthropology with Medical sciences
- Medical sciences generally ignore the influence of cultural aspects like religion, magic, and taboo on human health. Anthropology meanwhile, regards their role as essential.
- Medical sciences, unlike anthropology, do not give due emphasis to local practitioners like shamans and priests.
- Medical sciences have historically relied on first-hand information from hospitals and dispensaries. Anthropology has meanwhile relied on fieldwork through participant observation.
- Medical science, unlike anthropology, explores contemporary society’s health and illness in terms of biological causes such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
Today, following an international, interdisciplinary approach, both the subjects are further being brought on a common platform, to benefit from each other. This has led to the emergence of a new discipline – medical anthropology.