Medicine & Citizenship in Venezuela | Dissertation Reviews

For those of us deeply attached to Venezuela, this University of Chicago, 2012 dissertation by Amy Ellen Cooper is especially fascinating. But it will also be important for anyone seeking to change the world, on the relationship of social context and social conditions (including especially citizen participation) to physical health.

Medicine and Citizenship in Venezuela | Dissertation Reviews

From the review by Ana Servigna (Tulane):
Health practices are generally related to healing bodies, but Cooper explains that in Venezuela, those practices have become a “political experience of citizenship” (p. 73).…

Participation in the healthcare system is not limited to doctors and patients; it also includes an extraordinary number of community health volunteers. Complementing her previous chapters, Cooper analyzes the volunteers’ experiences of providing healthcare for others. One important feature that she highlights is that most volunteers are women, a phenomenon found in many other studies as well; however in her sample, these women are not only active participants but also local leaders engaged in the solution of local problems.

One of many popular images of the miraculous doctor.
And much more. I suspect that the desire for such participation was always, down deep, what the  cult of "el Doctor Milagroso", José Gregorio Hernández,  has always represented. He was a real Venezuelan physician, d. 1919, to whom many Venezuelans attribute magical curing powers and is now in the process of beatification. Statuettes and images of him are seen all over the country, and a postage stamp with his portrait was issued on the centenary of his birth in 1864. Now citizens have other ways to work to change conditions for better health, in addition to, or instead of, seeking magical aid from the dead doctor.