Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Abbreviated Summer Book Report

Before the summer started, I posted a list of books I would like to read. While I did read quite a few books (more than planned), my actual list of books read deviated significantly from my "wish list" of books that I planned to read. This was due largely in part to finding literature/material worth exploring immediatley within the confines of the book I was currently reading. Here is an abbreviated list of the actual books I read this summer.

1. Dream State
2. The World Is Flat
3. Freakonomics
4. Collapse
5. Rise of the Creative Class
6. Flight of the Creative Class
7. When Germs Travel
8. Mountains Beyond Mountains
9. The End of Poverty
10. Pathologies of Power
11. Infections and Inequalities
12. Beating Back the Devil - a look at the Epidemiological Intelligence Service
13. Cost Effectiveness in Health Economics
14. The Economics and Health and Health Care
15. The Economist - weekly from May - August
16. The Commanding Heights (3 part DVD documentary)

It may not be evident from this list, but a central theme developed in my reading. That theme was focused on what I now see as an ongoing global revolution that I really have only begun to fully comprehend and articulate. That revolution is based in a liberal-capitalism with an inevitible breakdown of nationalistic geopolitical borders as an unstated future goal with the creation of a largely universal governing body arising out of the UN, WTO, World Bank, and other trade institutions. The goal of this revolution is set in technological/economic determinism as the ultimate salvation for an increasing burden of poverty and a rapidly shifting demographic/income distribution throughout the globe.
The major obstacles to these revolutionary ideas are religio-fascist governments/organizations, anti-capitalists, corruption, and, maybe MOST important, poor health and its relationship to poverty.

That's really where things got interesting for me. Its obvious to me and to most people that poor health and poverty go hand in hand - but I had never realized how unified the globalists are in thinking about this relationship and how significant that burden really has become. This allowed me to begin focusing on Health Economics in the latter portion of the summer, with the understanding that implementing global health programs - including treatment, education, prevention are critical to a revolution that will either bypass the many citizens of the world, or crush the coming changes due to an inevitible future resistance by a desperate poor majority - potentially leading to a defeat of this large scale wave of globalization such as was seen in the early 20th centrury with the onset of WWI.

Anyway, as Paul Farmer and others know all to well, the language of global health programs is cost-effectiveness and health economics. As a medical student and anthropologist, I feel that an ethical and critical responsibility lies at my feet in my coming career to craft policy and programs that seek to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number during a period of rapid economic change by ensuring that people do not needlessly die or lose productive, quality years, from their lives due to easily prevented disease which sometimes have more to do with income distribution and geographic location than they have anything real to do with a person's current health profile.

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