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Paul Farmer: International Health Is Equity Issue

After decades of working on health problems in Haiti and other poor countries, Paul Farmer suggests equity is the best way to better health. Katherine Harmon reports

"In 1983, when I went to Haiti, the wave of sentiment that crashed over me was not just, gosh, this is appalling—it’s unfair."

Famous for his health work in Haiti, physician Paul Farmer.

"And then you started looking at what are the chief causes of morbidity and mortality? And you started seeing, really, measles? Bacterial pneumonia? Malaria? Childbirth? But all these things have been worked out again and again."

Farmer, a Harvard professor who co-founded the nonprofit Partners in Health, explained at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in Philadelphia, how that reaction should be an asset in the global battle for better health.

“If we don't have an equity strategy, then how can modern medicine and science participate meaningfully in responding to cancer in a globalized world? Same thing with cholera, same thing with AIDS, same thing with TB, same thing with hunger, on and on it goes…I believe science—scientists and doctors and nurses—ought to be at the forefront of that rights-based charge."

—Katherine Harmon

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

Also see Paul Farmer's Prescription for Restoring Health in Haiti--and Beyond

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