In fact, it seems to me that making strategic alliances across national borders in order to treat HIV among the world’s poor is one of the last great hopes of solidarity across a widening divide.
The idea that because you’re born in Haiti you could die having a child. The idea that because you’re born in you know Malawi your children may go to bed hungry. We want to take some of the chance out of that.
I think that looking forward it’s easy to imagine more constructive help for Haiti.
But as for activism, my parents did what they could, given the constraints, but were never involved in the causes I think of when I think of activists.
But if you’re asking my opinion, I would argue that a social justice approach should be central to medicine and utilized to be central to public health. This could be very simple: the well should take care of the sick.
Since I do not believe that there should be different recommendations for people living in the Bronx and people living in Manhattan, I am uncomfortable making different recommendations for my patients in Boston and in Haiti.
You can’t have public health without working with the public sector. You can’t have public education without working with the public sector in education.
I’ve been impressed, over the last 15 years, with how often the somewhat conspiratorial comments of Haitian villagers have been proven to be correct when the historical record is probed carefully.
Some people talk about Haiti as being the graveyard of development projects.
Civil and political rights are critical, but not often the real problem for the destitute sick. My patients in Haiti can now vote but they can’t get medical care or clean water.