Stacey Langwick, professor of medical anthropology at Cornell University and author of “Bodies, Politics, and African Healing,” comments on the recent effort to stem the spread of Ebola in Africa.
“One of the difficulties of addressing Ebola is that it requires intervening in the way that people care for each other – how they reach out, touch, and help each other. People are contagious when they are symptomatic, when they are in need, when they are turning to their loved ones for help.
“The spread of this virus highlights our interconnectedness. As public health officials tell people what is not safe to do, they must also work with community members to develop new traditions that are safe in the face of this epidemic. How can people best care for their loved ones? Ebola is not just about illness or even death, is it about the ethics of living, the ethics of caring for family and community even in the face of danger.
“Good healers are skillful in conceiving and promoting therapies that intervene in the dynamics of both biological diseases and human relationships. As we respond to the ongoing humanitarian emergency of Ebola we need to consider the social dimensions of healing.
“Healers can be valuable partners in addressing Ebola as historically African traditional therapies have addressed both the physical and the social basis of healing simultaneously.”