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December 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1993 Sep; 37(5): 671-8.

Me' winik: discovery of the biomedical equivalence for a Maya ethnomedical syndrome.

Berlin EA, Jara VM.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley 94720.

Investigation of the correspondence of ethnomedical illness syndromes and biomedical disease classification has led to the identification of a high prevalence of gallbladder disease among the Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya populations of Highland Chiapas. This condition, known to demonstrate exceptionally high rates among North American Indians, has not previously been described among the Highland Maya. The failure to recognize this serious health problem has been due primarily to cultural differences in understanding the anatomy and difficulties arising from communication of symptomatology. A focus on the interface of ethnomedicine and biomedicine is shown to have significance from both theoretical and applied perspectives.

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