Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Rethinking the potential, the responsibilities and the challenges to the medical anthropology in Peru/Reflections based on an investigation about the sanitary culture among peasant communities in the Puna

Maria Amalia PESANTES VILLA student laureate

°1976 Peru
Licence in anthropology, Universidad Católica del Perú, 2002

Repensando las potencialidades, responsabilidades y retos de la antropología médica en el Perú/Reflexiones a partir de una investigación sobre cultura sanitaria en comunidades campesinas de Puna

The present thesis focuses very clearly on the importance of taking into consideration the cultural aspects into the conception of politics that are meant to improve the well-being of local communities. The thesis consists of three parts: the first one is an analytic investigation related to the interest given to the theme of health/illness in anthropology in general and in Peru in particular. The author tries to find an answer to the question why this subject is marginalized in the Peruvian anthropology. The second is related to a case study in Andahuaylas, which consisted of a concrete long-term experience gained by the author in particularly harsh circumstances. It examines the challenges, difficulties and success obtained, based on investigations that had been carried out related to the local sanitary culture. It focuses on the methodology applied, the theory consulted and the potential of the anthropology to incorporate the results of an investigation in the activities of a development project. In this specific case, full attention goes to the activities related to sanitary education.
In the third part of the thesis the author identifies the problems that will have to be tackled if medical anthropology is promoted in Peru. She also gives some valuable recommendations for the health sector.
The subject of the thesis, though of major importance, not only for Peru, but also for other countries in the Andean region, has hardly been examined up to now. Water supply and quality, environmental use and risks of contamination, systems of rural production, peasant family livelihoods, and the organization of rural communities are all present in the study and are of crucial importance to Andean development. Ms Pesantes’ study shows how different the understandings of health risks can be among health professionals “imported” to work in rural health services, local health professionals and paraprofessionals, and the rural population itself. This work fully deserves an award due to its clear relevance for the development, its pragmatic and concrete scientific approach and the policy implications derived from it.