This lecture was extremely near and dear to my health because it surrounded the ideas that Riana and I committed our whole semester to researching – the ethical complications of interventions abroad. I think Carrie touched on the large overarching problem that continually comes into play in these situations: we do not take the time to understand the cultures we are trying to help. Carrie emphasized this through her story about how she intended to make the education system safer. She had great intentions, but formed a solution that could not actually be applied in reality. This complication was rooted in the fact that she formed the solution using her previous experiences and was simply not equipped with the “tools” to problem solve for this region of the world. We find time and time again that we are not familiar enough with the cultures of the countries we are trying to help and yet we still go abroad and try to use solutions that apply in the Western world. This can be seen in many areas of intervention, whether these are social, structural, or medical interventions. A prime example of American ignorance that I found in my personal research of interventions in Africa was that many health care professionals proposed that African men be circumcised in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs. In doing this the health care professionals compromised the African culture, as many of these cultures are against circumcision. It is a recurring problem that American health care workers attempt to assist in global health and arrogantly push solutions that simply do not fit into the cultures they are invading.
What examples arrogance or cultural ignorance have you seen in global health efforts?