Dr Oliver Herbert

Honorary Associate
Menzies Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health

Telephone +49 (0) 89 935212

Curriculum vitae Curriculum vitae

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Biographical details

Oliver Herbert is a Medical Anthropologist and specialist in Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Infections with a sub specialization in Allergology. His medical thesis at the Technical University of Munich (2000) explored the effects of environment and lifestyle on the prevalence of atopic diseases. After doing part of his medical training in Papua New Guinea, he became interested in the influence of local people’s beliefs – especially sorcery – on their understanding of illness. In 2000 he started studying anthropology and law at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich. He successfully passed the intermediate examination in law in 2003 and after repeated anthropological fieldwork in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, hereceived a PhD in Anthropology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in 2007. His continued interest in Health Policy in Papua New Guinea is the basis for his current interdisciplinary research in public health, in cooperation with Univ. of Sydney and Univ. of Bremen. ClinicallyDr. Herbert works for the German Air Force and in the Dermatology Department of the Swiss High Mountain Clinic in Davos.

Research interests

Current research

Oliver Herbert’s main interest is to bring together the disciplines of anthropology, medicine, history and public health, to draw a more comprehensive picture of illness and health. The differences in language and concepts characteristic of scholars from different traditions (especially qualitative vs. quantitative) are often so pronounced that fruitful cooperation is largely undermined - despite an overall growing interest in interdisciplinary work. Combining qualitative and quantitativeapproaches, Dr. Herbert’s current research illuminates the effects of Melanesian tradition and Western modernity on public health in Papua New Guinea: specifically, how are explanatory models of illness shaped in an intercultural context, why do certain decision-making processes favour traditional treatment approaches, whereas others may favour biomedical ones, what are the actual diagnostic and therapeutic options within traditional and Western medicine on Karkar Island (phytomedicine, Western pharmacotherapy, spiritual healing, Christian healing, traditional healers, Western doctors…), what are the effects of parasites on the immune system in respect to allergies, what is the relevance of indigenous social behavior in the health context (sexuality/HIV, betel nut chewing/oral cancer) and what are the benefits and problems of a “dual/mixed” traditional-modern health system?

Research interests

Public health, medical anthropology, environmental allergology, atopic diseases, health in non-industrialized countries, history of medicine, Papua New Guinea, explanatory models of illness, multidisciplinary qualitative-quantitative approaches.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Herbert, O., Barnetson, R., Weninger, W., Kramer, U., Behrendt, H., Ring, J. (2009). Western lifestyle and increased prevalence of atopic diseases: an example from a small Papua New Guinean island. World Allergy Organization Journal, 2(7), 130-137.

2009

  • Herbert, O., Barnetson, R., Weninger, W., Kramer, U., Behrendt, H., Ring, J. (2009). Western lifestyle and increased prevalence of atopic diseases: an example from a small Papua New Guinean island. World Allergy Organization Journal, 2(7), 130-137.

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