Friday Ephemeraren’t
May Contain Traces Of Irony

Trust Me, I’m A Witchdoctor

Via Mr Muldoon, a peek into the comment pages of the Guardian, where Ms Ngaree Blow attempts to sell the merits of prehistoric healing:

Healthcare systems in Australia that are considered “mainstream” are fundamentally colonial organisations: designed, established and informed by Western paradigms and biomedical models of care. 

Going with what works and works reliably. How very dare those damned colonials. With their Western paradigms.

At present, the norm is those who will fit within the constraints of the Western worldview of health… Ultimately, this results in a health system which is not fit for purpose, 

The term fit for purpose is one to keep in mind. But first, some self-flattery - the urge to self-inflate being a Guardian staple:

First Peoples are the antithesis of colonial; we are inherently disruptive to how the healthcare system (and many other systems in fact) operate in Australia... As a doctor, I have embraced disruption and have chosen to reject conventional medical training pathways. 

How terribly daring. With other people’s wellbeing.

Our disruption has historically been, and continues to be, rejected by the mainstream.

Intimations of victimhood being another Guardian staple. Apparently, modern medical science, with its oppressive Western paradigms, is insufficiently deferential to “our ways of knowing, being and doing.” We must, says Ms Blow, “embrace all knowledge systems.”

Our unique lens, which views health as holistic and all-encompassing, has often been ignored or worse, considered inferior, as evidenced by a lack of traditional practices in these services.

Well, not everyone is happy trusting their recovery to healing songs and delusions of aboriginal sorcery, and there’s only so much you can achieve by pushing crushed witchetty grubs into a person’s ear. Likewise, the restorative properties of bush dung, as used in many of the practices invoked by Ms Blow - those “ways of knowing” - are somewhat unclear.

With a glorious lack of irony, Ms Blow then denounces “outdated approaches to health” and insists that medical treatment must be “culturally appropriate.” If not, one assumes, optimal or even efficacious. Still, if patients aren’t recovering as rapidly as one might hope, or indeed recovering at all, at least those Western paradigms will be “decolonised” and righteously disrupted:

There has never been a more exciting time to be disruptive.

A term Ms Blow deploys no fewer than eleven times. Possibly hinting at her priorities.

Update, via the comments:

Ms Blow also deploys the buzzword ‘equity’, discussed here recently, and enthuses about its potential as a “disruptive innovation”:

Equity of ideas or worldviews of health and wellbeing should have mutual respect, without hierarchy of knowledge systems.

Medicine must, we’re told, “incorporate” aboriginal beliefs - and without hierarchy. And so, doctors and surgeons should pretend that all worldviews, however primitive and dysfunctional, are somehow equal in their merits and medical effectiveness. An equally valid use of time and resources.

But despite attempts to romanticise aboriginal medicine, the persistent differences in health and lifespan rather speak for themselves. If aboriginal approaches, untainted by “colonial organisations,” are so praiseworthy and desirable, one wonders why aboriginal people suffer from alarming rates of diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis, chlamydia and any number of other afflictions – from cardiovascular problems to hearing loss and disastrous oral hygiene. And the less contact they have with the “biomedical models” that so offend Ms Blow, the more pronounced the disparities seem to be. Being “disruptive” and “the antithesis of colonial” doesn’t appear to be working out awfully well.

And if the primary cause of the disparities is the arrestedness of aboriginal culture, and it would seem it is, then demanding medical deference to aboriginal beliefs - in the name of “equity” and “disruption” - doesn’t sound like the best way to improve health outcomes for aboriginal people.

Ms Blow is currently employed by the University of Melbourne.

Somewhat related.


Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.