Robert M. Wachter recently joined the Global Health Core on a trip to Haiti to experience first-hand the Core's efforts to provide quality care across borders. Dr. Wachter is Professor and Associate Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Medicine is universal.”
This is a phrase that Dr. Pierre, one of my Haitian colleagues here in Hinche, uses frequently. What he means is that medical conditions and the treatments they require do not actually differ between a low resource setting like central Haiti and a hospital like University of California, San Francisco. Of course, some diagnoses here (malaria, leptospirosis, cholera) are rarely encountered on the wards of American hospitals. In addition, we must remember that illness is often shaped by political, social, and economic inequities. But the fundamentals of disease are the same; the human body doesn’t know that it was born across the border. (more…)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
This post is a question, an invitation and a challenge. How can we bring technologies we take for granted back home to those in the developing world? Many before me have spoken with outrage about the reality of two worlds; one of abundance, and the other where people live like they have in centuries past. The situation is more complicated since even poor people may have some technologies like cellphones now, but vital lifesaving technologies remain nowhere in sight. Some may argue that we still haven’t solved the dilemma of how to provide basic care on a global scale, but I believe that the two don’t need to be sequential. In actuality there are many scenarios in medicine where having a technology available is in fact necessary for the basic management of disease. We are doing our patients a disservice when they die from lack of access to a ventilator the same way as when they die from lack of access to an antibiotic. (more…)