The Role of Health Care Sectors in Cancer Prevention and Control in New Brunswick


Principal Investigator:

    Dr. Koumari Mitra

    Professor, Department of Anthropology

    University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

Graduate Research Assistant:

    Julie Easley

    M.A. Candidate, Department of Anthropology

    University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

Under Construction

The term plural medical systems has been used widely by medical anthropologists in referring to societies that have many distinct healing roles (Leslie, 1977; Joralemon, 1999). According to Arthur Kleinman, healing activities in  plural medical systems can be classified into the following three categories (Kleinman ,1980; Joralemon, 1999; Helman, 2000) : i) popular health care sector, involving  lay representations of illness and cure since each culture prescribes a set of beliefs and practices for its members regarding health maintenance; ii) folk sector, involving certain individuals such as shamans or curanderos who specialize in forms of healing that are either sacred or secular, or a combination of both without the aid of any formal training. However, the folk sector is heterogenous in representation and can range from secular, technical experts such as bone setters, midwives, or herbalists,  to spiritual healers such as the shaman; and iii) professional health care sector is an organized body with an emphasis on diagnosis and cure of the disease. In this sector treatment is carried out by persons with specialized training and knowledge. When analysed in this manner the professional health care sector is best represented by the practice of biomedicine with its structured organization of physicians, specialists, nurses and other health care workers and professionals. It includes not only primary care givers and specialists but also the entire body of health administrators. However, there are many non western medical systems that can fall under the realm of professional health care sector. Examples include Ayurvedic and Unâni systems of medicine which predate biomedicine by centuries and are also professionally organized into a medical system (Joralemon 1999:62; Helman, 2000:58). Apart from biomedicine, other examples of medical practices from North America that are part of professional health care sector include Chinese and Japanese traditional herbal specialists, acupuncturists as well as chiropractors.

Even though the prevailing medical system in New Brunswick is bio medical, alternative medical practices have become popular in recent years. According to our findings there exists much interest in the general population for incorporating alternative health care regimen as an integrated component of cancer prevention and control strategies.