Negotiating “The Social” and Managing Tuberculosis in Georgia
In this paper I utilize anthropological insights to illuminate how health professionals and patients navigate and negotiate what for them is social about tuberculosis in order to improve treatment outcomes and support patients as human beings. I draw on ethnographic research about the implementation of the DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course) approach in Georgia’s National Tuberculosis Program in the wake of the Soviet healthcare system. Georgia is a particularly unique context for exploring these issues given the country’s rich history of medical professionalism and the insistence that the practice of medicine is a moral commitment to society. I argue for critical attention to the ways in which treatment recipients and providers navigate what, for them, is “social” about therapeutic practices and their significance for avoiding biological and social reductionism.