Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Archive for January, 2008

Book Review: “Mountains Beyond Mountains”

Posted by chads on January 24, 2008

It’s been over 3 years since I read Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains:  The Quest of Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.”  While I don’t remember details of the book, I do remember staying up late at night reading, unable to put the book down.  I remember being pushed into a corner, forced to face the realities of the global health situation.  I remember having no choice but to ask myself questions such as:  “Do that many people really suffer and die needlessly?” and “Can a small group of people really make a difference on such a large scale?”  and “Is health a human right?  Should it be a human right?”

Paul Farmer, it seems, is a “rock star” of global health.  I went to hear him speak in Chicago a few years ago, and, after waiting in line for an hour and a half, I left without shaking his hand.  While it could be argued that Dr. Farmer has received a disproportionate amount of credit (fame?) for his work, few would disagree that his story inspires, and that the work of him and other pioneers of health and human rights has changed the direction of global health forever.

Paul was raised in a bus and on a boat.  He went to medical school at Harvard, where he also earned a PhD in anthropology.  Much of his time, however, was spent in Haiti, not Boston, where he sought to bring medicines to people dying of AIDS, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, people others had either given up on, or never thought of.  This, he would say, is a “morally clear” cause.  This book chronicles his journey from idealistic medical student to a respected leader who influences policy and the way we as a global society view global health.

The title is based on a Haitian proverb:  after one trial comes another, and workers in global health can attest to the truth of that statement.

I highly recommend this book.  It is both entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Posted in Book Reviews, Health and Human Rights | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: “Players and Issues in International Aid”

Posted by chads on January 17, 2008

WHO, NGO, IMF, UNICEF, USAID, CARE, LWR, PVO, CRS,

ECOSOC, WFP, IDA, BRAC, UN, ARC

 If you are as mind-boggled as I have been by the endless acronyms in international aid, then you may benefit from the book “Players and Issues in International Aid.”  Paula Hoy, the (current?) associate director of Interfaith Hunger Appeal, is effective in introducing the major organizations involved in humanitarian aid and global health.  She provides a needed historical summary to the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other multinational, international, national, and non-governmental organizations.  In so doing, she introduces issues such as aid equity, aid effectiveness, and gender.  I found the book useful and easy to read, though dry at times.  There is one major flaw:  the most recent edition (I think) was published in 1998.  Time for a new edition!

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Thoughts on international opportunities

Posted by chads on January 16, 2008

I’ve recently had several people ask for advice regarding international health trips.  For whatever it’s worth, here’s what I recommended:

-Try the best you can to get to the bottom of the following questions as soon as possible (even if you don’t really know the answer, thinking about it will guide the decisions you are trying to make):

1.  What are your motivations?  Sounds trite and preachy, but the goal of “decreasing global disparities long-term” will lead you in a much different direction than “have an adventurous, exotic vacation.”

2.  What do you really want to be doing in 15 years?  All of your experiences will build on prior.  Take advantage of all opportunities.

After asking myself those questions (and 3 trips to Mozambique, 2 to Peru, one to Samoa, Mexico), I have come to the (painful!) commitment that i will not go on an international trip unless:

1.  I have a clearly defined role
2.  There is good evaluation and monitoring
3.  There is the possibility of publication
4.  There is the possibility of long-term collaboration
5.  Commitment to evidence-based interventions.

Here are a few resources you may want to look into:

1.  Global health Council:  weekly email is excellent
2.  CORE group (www.coregroup.org) has a weekly job announcement that is also very good.

Posted in Practical Advice | 1 Comment »

Utah Global Health Alliance?

Posted by chads on January 15, 2008

I’ve been thinking periodically about a Utah (or LDS? or something else?) Global Health Alliance for a few years now, so I thought I’d write about it. I envision an umbrella organization that provides a place for:

-NGOs to receive technical assistance.

-Students and others to come to learn about work, volunteer, and research opportunities.

-Academics to collaborate.

-Donors to find a recipient that share their vision.

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, Utah Valley Global Health Group | 5 Comments »

New Page: Introductions and Classifieds

Posted by chads on January 5, 2008

Check out this new page.

Posted in Announcements | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Bury the Chains

Posted by chads on January 5, 2008

“..it was time some person should see these calamities to their end.
    Thomas Clarkson, a recently ordained deacon in the Church of England, came to that conclusion in June, 1785, after writing a prize-winning essay: Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare? – “Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?”
    Bury the Chains is an engaging, as well as harrowing, account of the movement to end the slave trade in eighteenth century England. The book reads like a well-written novel. A cast of unlikely characters joins to make history: Clarkston is determined and idealistic, ex-slave trader John Newton wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”, Olaudah Equiano wrote a best-selling autobiography detailing his life as a slave, Granville Sharp was an eccentric musician, William Wilberforce was the movement’s political voice, and the Quakers provided organization. Bury the Chains is a story of how a small group of people can, in fact, make a difference, a story of how people from different backgrounds can unite to to what is right, a story of human triumph.
    Clarkson’s words have haunted me. He did not, you see, learn of slavery and then simply feel the need to help. He determined that someone should end it. And they did.
    Bury the Chains is moving, inspiring account. I recommend it to anyone interested in social change. In my mind, the parallels with global health are all too obvious.

Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments »