Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doctoring in Haiti

Title: Mountains Beyond Mountains
Author: Tracy Kidder

This excellent book tells the true story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard Medical School graduate who selflessly devotes himself to healing the poor.

Raised in more-or-less poverty, Farmer has a deep sympathy for and desire to help the poor. As a young man he travels to Haiti, discovering the horrifying conditions there. Later he returns and builds a clinic, Zanmi Lasante, in Cange. There, a disease all but eliminated in the US runs rampant. TB afflicts many Haitians, and worse, some of those strains are MDR-TB, or multi-drug resistant TB.

Throughout the next 20 or so years, Paul and his friends also set up clinics and programs for dealing with MDR-TB in Peru and Russia. He helps to change the World Health Organization's treatment policy for TB, which sometimes actually increases the likelihood that a patient will end up with MDR-TB. He also treats sufferers of AIDS, writes grants, flies all over the world, gives lectures, writes books and articles, answers hundreds of emails a day, and still finds time to personally treat patients. The man is amazing.

I have already looked up the website of Farmer's nonprofit organization, Partners in Health (PiH), with the intent of donating money in the near future. You always read about philanthropic organizations where very little money goes to the recipients and most goes to administrative efforts. Not so with PiH. Its administrators do not make much to begin with and commonly donate money to help with PiH's efforts. Paul himself seems to survive on very little income, instead giving much of what he has to help PiH.

All in all, Farmer's selflessness and the dedication of Partners in Health is simply amazing and inspiring, and this book is well-worth a read.

Labels: , ,

posted by Kate at 10:57 AM


Post a Comment