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Metabolic disorder, global health and ‘noncommunicable’ disease in Malawi

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This paper examines how the concept of ‘metabolic disorder’ or ‘metabolic syndrome’ has been applied to the collection of global health metrics on ‘noncommunicable’ disease in Malawi. It argues that though the contemporary science of metabolism points to complexity and contingency, its application in this context has led to a narrowing in understanding of the drivers of epidemiological change. I point to some alternative understandings of these changes and also draw briefly on the insights gained from interviews with older Malawians. The latter highlight two related issues : exposure to chemical pollutants and accelerated growth.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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