DR. PAUL FARMER, Partners In Health and Global Health Equity

Every time I read Paul Farmer or about Paul Farmer (of Partners In Health), I get both inspired and I learn a lot. I was reading Pathologies of Power this weekend.

Farmer works predominantly in a Boston teaching hospital and in Haiti, among the worlds very poor, and he points out the painful unethical avoidance of global health equity by medical ethics boards. From Pathologies of Power (pg 203-305):

“These [ethics] consults [on which he sometimes serves] are [in the West] often about too much medical care. That is, we are called to explore cases in which care is painful, expensive, and prolonged well beyond the point of efficacy…

But being a clinician who works in both a Harvard teaching hospital and rural Haiti, I can’t help but make connections between the surfeit on one side—too much care—and the paucity on the other…

What does bioethics have to say about this, the leading ethical question of our times [the right to health care for all]? Almost nothing…

One gets the sense, in attending ethics rounds and reading the now-copious ethics literature, that these have-nots are an embarrassment to the ethicists, for the problems of poverty and racism and a lack of national health insurance figure only rarely in a literature dominated by endless discussions of brain death, organ transplantation, xenotransplantation, and care at the end of life.

When the end of life comes early—from death in childbirth, say, or from tuberculosis or infantile diarrhea—the scandal is immeasurably greater, but silence reigns in the medical ethics literature.

Isn’t that revealing? Surely a sickness in itself, if not of the body our collective heart and mind.

Here’s a little thing on youtube on Farmer and Partners In Health:

And this:

Lots of love to you—and here’s to greater equity, gratitude, and the seeking of greater justice and health for all, regardless of their birthplace…



One Response to “DR. PAUL FARMER, Partners In Health and Global Health Equity”

  1. [...] Here is more information about PIH and Paul Farmer that I’ve written over the years. [...]

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