MedUni Vienna researcher Ruth Kutalek part of new WHO Advisory Group
(Vienna, 06 August 2020) A new expert group, including researchers from MedUni Vienna, has been set up to assist WHO (World Health Organization) on matters relating to social and behavioural sciences. Its particular function is to provide a better understanding and analysis of human decision-making criteria, whereby decisions are made on the basis of cultural and economic considerations, as well as personal values. Especially now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, people are having to make important decisions that impact their health.
MedUni Vienna researcher Ruth Kutalek, from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at MedUni Vienna's Center for Public Health, is looking forward to participating in this important WHO advisory group and contributing her medical anthropology expertise on epidemics and infectious diseases. She has already worked for WHO during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and is currently Principal Investigator in the EU-funded SoNAR Global project. "Crises such as we are now seeing with the Covid-19 pandemic have just as many social implications as health implications," says the medical anthropologist. "Analysing human behaviour, for example how people assess the health risk to themselves and others, what they do or don't do, and what influences this behaviour are therefore of immediate importance in understanding epidemics."
The "WHO Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health" consists of 22 experts from 16 countries with expertise in psychology, anthropology, health promotion, neurosciences and social marketing, inter alia. The Group's function is to advise WHO on how social and behavioural sciences can be integrated more effectively in health issues – including Covid-19, for example.
About Ruth Kutalek
Ruth Kutalek, Professor of Medical Anthropology, is a scientist at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine of the Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard Medical School, Department of Social Medicine in 2006 and has been a WHO expert adviser since 2014, with research projects in East and West Africa and Europe. Her main research interests are: medical anthropology/ethnomedicine, Global Health, migration and health, anthropology of infectious diseases and ethnopharmacology.