Author: Leon Gordis MD, MPH, Dr.PH
Summary: Based on his 30 years’ experience in teaching introductory epidemiology Dr. Gordis produced this book. It explains the epidemiologic approach to disease and intervention explores the use of epidemiologic principles to identify the cause of disease and discusses how epidemiology should be used to improve evaluation and public policy. This book is fairly accessible and helps build an understanding of disease, its spread, and policy responses to it. This book should be of value to those who want a deeper insight into public health.
Drugs for Life
Author: Joseph Dumit
Summary: Every year the average number of prescriptions purchased by Americans increases as do healthcare expenditures which are projected to reach 1/5 of the US GBP by 2020. In Drugs for Life, Joseph Dumit considers how our burgeoning consumption of medicine and the cost of healthcare not only came to be but also came to be taken for granted. For several years Dumit attended pharmaceutical industry conferences; spoke with marketers, researchers, doctors, and patients and surveyed the industry’s literature. He concluded that underlying the continued growth of medications, disease categories, costs, and insecurity is a relatively new perception of ourselves as inherently ill and in need of chronic treatment. This perception is based on clinical trials that we have largely outsourced to pharmaceutical companies. Those companies, in turn, see clinical trials as investments and measure the value of those investments by the size of the markets and profits they will create. They only ask questions for which the answer is more medicine.
Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic
Author: Julie Livingston
Summary: In this work Julie Livingston tells the story of Botswana’s only dedicated cancer war in its capital of Gaborone. This affecting ethnography follows patients, their relatives, and ward staff as a cancer epidemic emerged in Botswana. This epidemic is part of a surge of cancer across the global south. The stories of the ward dramatize the human stakes and intellectual and institutional challenges of an epidemic capable of shaping the future of global health. They present high tech medicine in a context where vital machines are often broken, drugs go in and out of stock, and bed space is always at a premium. Furthermore, it demonstrates that cancer “occurs between people”. Serious illness, care, pain, disfigurement, and even death are deeply social experiences. Livingston also describes bureaucracy, vulnerability, power, biomedical science, mortality, and hope.
Author: Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg
Summary: This powerful anthropological and photographic study plunges the reader into a world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States. For over a decade the authors followed two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers in their scramble of survival on the streets of San Francisco. This book is a vivid chronicle of intimate suffering, solidarity, and betrayal and an analysis of the structural forces that shape the lives of the destitute in the world’s wealthiest nation.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Author: Anne Fadiman
Summary: This book explores the clash between a small country hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia’s parents and her doctors both wanted what was best, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. A great book for considering ideas of cultural exchange as related to healthcare.
When People Come First
Authors: Joao Biehl and Adriana Petryna
Summary: When People Come First brings together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars to address the medical, social, political, and economic dimensions of the global health enterprise through vivid case studies and bold conceptual work. The book demonstrates the crucial role of ethnography as an empirical lantern in global health, arguing for a more comprehensive, people-centered approach.
Infections and Inequalities
Author: Paul Farmer
Summary: Paul Farmer has battled AIDS in rural Haiti and drug-resistant TB in the Slums of Peru. A physician and anthropologist for more than 15 years Farmer is a witness to the frontline of the war against modern plaques and their particular impact on the poor. Moving from Harvard with its surrounding urban poverty to the central Plateau of Haiti the book is a chronicle of the peculiarly modern inequality that is inextricably linked with TB, HIV, malaria, and typhoid. The book argues that most modern explanations whether cost-effectiveness or noncompliance fail to address the true issues at fault.
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Author: Tracy Kidder
Summary: At the center of this work stands Paul Farmer: doctor, professor, renowned infectious disease specialist, MacArthur. Genius Dr. Farmer was brought up on a bus and boat and found his life’s calling in medical school namely to diagnose and cure infectious disease and to bring the lifesaving tools of medicine to those who need them most. This book shows how radical change can be fostered in the face of the seemingly impossible and how convention gives way to persistence. This book continually reminds us of Farmer’s belief that “the only nation is humanity”.