Monday, January 2, 2012

Academia? Action? Translation please, pt. 2

Part 2: Answers from academia

note: The following excerpts are pulled out of their original context but capture what I think very generally what their respective articles aim to achieve. I encourage you to read the original text (links available following the references at the end of this post). 

1) How do we understand the relationship between health and inequity?

"Anthropologists who take these as research questions study both individual experience and the larger social matrix in which it is embedded in order to see how various large-scale social forces come to be translated into personal distress and disease. By what mechanisms do social forces ranging from poverty to racism become embodied as individual experience? This has been the focus of most of my own research in Haiti, where political and economic forces have structured risk for AIDS, tuberculosis, and, indeed, most other infectious and parasitic diseases. Social forces at work there have also structured risk for most forms of extreme suffering, from hunger to torture and rape." - Paul Farmer

2) How do we go about building a more healthy and just future?

"To ensure success, in 2005 the world must start building capacity, improving policies, and delivering the investments needed to meet the goals. This effort will need to be sustained at the global, national, and local level over the next decade. And only with immediate action can long-term environmental challenges, such as climate change and fisheries depletion, be contained before they cause irreparable harm for the poor countries least able to protect themselves." - Jeffrey Sachs

"From a global perspective, an essential first step to redress global health inequities is to show the injustice of the present situation and make 'explicit the values on which the proposed action is based'. (38) A second is to develop principles to guide global and national actions to redress such inequalities... Justice in health requires societies to provide individuals with the necessary conditions for achieving the highest possible threshold level of health so they can have flourishing lives." - Jennifer Ruger

3) Whose ethical responsibility is it to ensure global health?

"In conclusion, international agencies and organisations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the United Nations must work together and in a supportive and facilitative role vis-à-vis state actors and institutions to correct global health injustices. State governments, institutions and actors, along with non-governmental organisations, local communities, businesses, foundations, families and individuals must assume a prior and direct role and responsibility, through a framework of shared health governance, at the level of the nation-state. A moral framework should be applied to all global health policies. Reducing gaps in preventable mortality and morbidity is an essential focus of the global health community in the 21st century." - Jennifer Ruger  

Farmer, Paul . "On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below." Daedalus 125.1 (1996): 261-283. Online. [Link]
Ruger, J P. "Ethics and governance of global health inequalities." Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 60 (2005): 998-10002. Online. [Link]
Sachs, J D, and J W McArthur. "The Millennium Project: a plan for meeting the millennium development goals."Lancet 365 (2005): 347-353. Online. [Link]
What relevance do these broad answers have to your own life? Consider the ways in which your actions impact global health inequities everyday. Stay tuned for the next post, where I offer a few preliminary answers from my own experiences. 

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