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Disease Change and the Role of Medicine: The Navajo Experience$
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Stephen Kunitz

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780520049260

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520049260.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Disease Change and the Role of Medicine: The Navajo Experience

Stephen J. Kunitz

University of California Press

The argument presented in this book is that among Navajo Indians, medical therapy was of enormous value in treating some of the most important infectious diseases but is and will continue to be of questionable value in reducing mortality from the causes that are now of major significance—accidental and other violent deaths. It also addresses what it means when a society defines conditions as diseases instead of something else. It is noted that the social role of the hospital changed as disease patterns changed. The data also reveal that medical therapy has been effective in some important instances in less developed nations and in segments of the populations of developed ones. However, they indicate that the triumphs of the past may not be predictive of equal success in the future. An overview of the chapters included in this book is offered.

Keywords:   infectious diseases, Navajo Indians, mortality, accidental death, violent death, hospital

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