Genes Load the Gun

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I think it's interesting the kind of discussion that can come about in regards to global health. Not just when we talk about what's happening in the United States, but including the entire global community and their stance on an individual's health. Last night I went to a Duke sponsored discussion on global health that included two of the leading names in the field - Dr. Victor Dzau and Dr. Paul Farmer. Have President Brodhead sitting between them and leading the interview/discussion? Now that's not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night.

I can't claim to understand everything, or to even know enough about the sides of the issue to have an opinion of my own. But I do appreciate my chance to hear those in the know illuminate some of the problems. Global health is being tackled so differently everywhere that to hear someone like Paul Farmer, who has worked in Haiti, Africa, and so many more places to try and make a difference in the lives of the poor, is a special opportunity.

I can't seem to think of a way to sum up what I learned or heard at this talk, more an example of my own failure to communicate the issue accurately, but here are a few quotes that I typed into my phone while trying to keep the discussion clear in my mind:

1) "Genes load the gun but environment pulls the trigger" - President Brodhead on public health, congenital disease, and societal influences
2) "The issue of global health is health everywhere. And health everywhere is a lot of issues simultaneously." - President Brodhead, summary point
3) "What is important to do and how do we use the resources we have to do it?" President Brodhead's opinion of Duke's view of its own purpose, but also Dr. Farmer's choice on how small enterprises make big and lasting changes

I think the biggest idea that I took from this discussion was the idea of global health not being something 'outside of the US', not 'International Health'. The poor and distraught in the US need help just as badly as those in other countries, and it seems to me the issue will never come to a satisfactory ending without all of us working together to tackle it everywhere.

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