How do the global climatic, ecological and socio-economical changes affect the capacity of human health system to prevent the emergence of new diseases? What are the social, cultural and ecological factors that enhance or break down the capacity of human health care system to absorb disturbances while retaining its basic function and structure, i.e. to be resilient?
Unprecedented loss of biodiversity and climatic change impact human health with consequences at both global and local scales. Because of their sociopolitical and historical context, and their direct reliance on natural resources for their livelihood and health, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities -IPLC- are the most exposed to the impacts of these changes. It is urgent to assess how IPLC’s health care systems could adapt to current and future global changes.
This study aims to empirically test a novel model for assessing the resilience of IPLC’s health care system taking a social-ecological lens. To do so, I am working with the Baka, foragers-horticulturalists from southeastern Cameroon, who have been facing several changes since the 1960s, the Baka rely mostly on their access to wild plants for their health, yet they are exposed to deforestation and their culture and livelihood are affected by social and economical changes.
The research has 3 main objectives:
1) To provide an ethnographic and ethnoecological description of the health system of the Baka, their predominant health issues and the main disturbances on this system;
2) To explore the functional structure of the health system; and
3) To explore the dynamics of the medicinal knowledge system.
I aim to create a model by combining 1) culturally grounded indicators, which include socio-cultural knowledge, practices and behavior related to health; 2) utilitarian redundancy indicators, related to the medicinal resources used within this system; and 3) knowledge circulation indicators, related to the dynamic structure of the system, through the social network and the cultural transmission pathways.
By taking an interdisciplinary approach, combining anthropology, botany and ethnoecology, I also aim to provide a conceptual and methodological framework that will be useful to better assess the resilience health care system of small-scale societies worldwide and that will contribute to better understand how human health system is interconnected with the ecological dynamics.
The project is funded by the AGAUR (Agencia de Gestión de Ayudas Universitarias y de Investigación – Generalitat de Catalunya) under a Beatriu de Pinos Fellowship (2020-BP00216) and led by Sandrine Gallois (ICTA-UAB).
01-03-2022 until 28-02-2025