Mountains beyond Mountains
|Sorry to have been away from this blog for so long... but I spent all of last week in bed battling what started out as a cold but morphed into a case of pneumonia... today at long last I feel sort of human again...|
Speaking of infectious disease, while I was cooped up I read Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, the story of Paul Farmer and his Partners in Health organization. We often hear Margaret Meade quoted: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Kidder's book shows what this means in real life. Paul Farmer set out to bring health care to the poorest of the poor on the central plateau of Haiti, and managed to pull much of the world heath establishment into his venture.
Despite Farmer's explicit refusal to consider cost-efficacy as a morally acceptable construct in health care, he and his cohorts managed to drag much of the global health care technocracy around to his way of thinking, and reshaped the way major organizations -- like the World Health Organization -- think about the treatment of tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria in the most desperate parts of our planet. Not that many years ago, Farmer was a voice crying in the wilderness about the danger of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis - but just this week the WHO took his approach to malaria, calling for an end to single-drug treatment of the disease before it breeds more virulent and resistent strains.
But most remarkable is the man himself -- his story, as told by Pulitzer Prize winning Kidder -- shows just how much energy and passion can be channeled by a single human being -- and just how much good can be catalyzed by a single passionate spirit.
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