Nov 19, 2020 in Analysis

Article Analysis-“Progress in Human Geography”

Medical Geography and Political Ecology

Geographical studies have become one of the most important areas of research recently. Globalization of the modern world is connected with many problems emerging in front of the contemporary worlds society, and medical geography plays one of the crucial roles in understanding and coping with environmental issues that pose a danger to the humanity. Due to medical geography, it became possible to cure various diseases in various countries of the world and understand their causes.


Globalization forced people to consider themselves members of a global community being responsible for what is occurring not only inside the nation-states but beyond their boundaries, as well. Thus, the global community has the responsibility to protect human health all over the world because for diseases there are no boundaries. If not stopped, they can turn epidemic; thus the world society has to take all the required measures to protect people. Jonathan Mayer discusses the issues of medical geography in his work The political ecology of disease as one new focus for medical geography (1996).

As Mayer states, medical geography is connected with disease ecology depended on the interaction of human beings and the environment, Disease ecology... provides an illustration of the potential to geography to unite the physical and social worlds (441). From the other side, another author, Jacques May states that ecology influences further development of a disease. It means that people get food from the environment and from the food which earth, temperature, and rain produce, their protein deficiencies, their beriberi (May 428). May and Mayer distinguish the main factors of occurring diseases, but Mayer argues that chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, neurological diseases, which all have political, social, economic and cultural contexts (442) have the same environmental characteristics as infectious diseases and those of malnutrition. Therefore, it is impossible to understand the causes of any disease emergence without considering its social and psychological reasons. Modern scholars state that contemporary research of diseases should include more than simple examining their biological reasons as, Such approaches ignore the multiplicity of geographic, climatic, economic, and political factors that affect disease patterns (Packard et al. 405). Therefore, political ecology is an essential discipline when studying all factors of various diseases emergence for their further successful curing.

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As Mayer states, the political ecology of disease is best understood in the context of recent changes in the field of medical geography (443). Moreover, medical geography could exclude many factors connected with human activity and environment which influence disease spreading (since medical geography is the social geography, geography of health). It studies connections between social theory and geography and should be restricted to analyzing all problems posing a danger to human beings. Therefore, to solve the problem, it is necessary to unite political ecology with medical geography and the post-medical one. It can help to improve health care problem solving from both social theory and human geography points of view being an integrated part of the modern study. Another important part of research is political issues. Thus, Mayer states that such scholars as Rosenberg and Brownlea in their works emphasize the importance of political issues in medical geography. Therefore, environmental and political factors are the most important determiners for health care problem solving because they influence disease spreading. At the same time, May does not analyze political influence on disease distribution, and many scholars criticize him for it.

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One of the drawbacks of Mayers article is his analysis of disease ecology connection with the environment and politics with further analysis of political ecology, its nature, and its impact on health. Thus, he considers the problem of HIV and AIDS, noting that some scholars consider this phenomenon as the local issue of some African countries such as Uganda solely. According to them, it is enough to isolate HIV-infected people from society, and the problem will be solved. Of course, Mayer criticizes the abovementioned approach to the global health problem, but he does not mention its political component. For instance, diseases connected with malnutrition, trypanosomiasis, malaria and many others are connected with the political situation in the countries. The whole world knew about the genocide in Rwanda and the so-called Great War of Africa (the First and the Second Congo Wars) for mineral resources: gold, tungsten, cassiterite, and coltan. It was the deadliest war in Africa, which killed about five and a half million of people. More than a thousand people died every day from famine in 2004. To make things worth, Rwandan soldiers captured people of Tutsis and infected them in camps for imprisoned. Thus, tens of thousands people became HIV-infected. Those who managed to survive went into exile to other African countries. Thus, AIDS spread in Africa. Of course, Europeans came into contact with HIV-infects and spread AIDS in Europe. Thus, it is impossible to hide the worlds society from the global issues.

In his article, Mayer draws attention to global issues, which can be caused by various hazardous diseases. He emphasizes the importance of solving such problems and suggests various approaches to their examining from the point of view of medical geography. In addition, he suggests combining political ecology with medical geography for studying diseases, their origin and further curing; however, unfortunately, it will not be achieved without international cooperation, organizations, funds, committees and participation of the most developed countries such as the United States and the European Union since epidemics in the countries of the Third World can turn into the catastrophe of the global scale.


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