Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dr. Claudio's One-Liners

Dr.Claudio Schuftan, runs the PHA-Exchange, an international mailing list for those interested in the People's Health Movement and working towards ensuring health as a human right. Here is a sample post containing a collection of some of his one-liners.

1. Half truths are like half bricks: you can throw them further.

2. The rich countries perpetuate the myth that expertise is the prerogative of the few.

3. If we made poverty and malnutrition contagious across the globe, their elimination would be remarkably rapid.

4. The rich like to speak of one world, but actually they are worlds apart of the realities of poverty with its ongoing HR violations.

5. When poor people are suffering and oppressed, the last thing they need is a God of docile love and meekness.

6. In international affairs (including international HR law), countries of the South most often react, but just reacting limits their choices.

7. "If I am not for myself, then who is for me? And if I am not for others who am I? And if not now, when?".

8. Stop reinventing the wheel. Start putting wheels on the wagon.

9. The future has many names: for the powerful few it is status-quo, for the bold (among the not-yet-powerful-many) it is an opportunity for needed structural changes (that will tackle HR violations at their roots).

10. Struggle is a principle of development; to be is to do.

11. Faith in the power of doing is better than doing nothing at all.

12. Either we unite, organize and cooperate closely or many more will continue dying unnecessary deaths… United, we all have an opportunity to make a difference… Divided we beg, united we demand

13. Action unites more than words; the latter usually divide.

14. "Raise hopes, don't destroy illusions".

15. We are not to preach, but to organize mass actions.

16. The name of the game is: Focus on lasting/sustainable results, not on any dogma!

17. Because men and women experience poverty differently, we need to work harder on the rights of women (and those of minorities).

18. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect poor women to overcome deeply ingrained socio-cultural barriers just because we empower them financially through micro-credit operations and/or we train them in leadership. For their rights to be ultimately respected, more than that will be needed…

19. An economic system that has little or no use for better than half of the world's population can and must be radically transformed.

20. The world economic order works for the advantage of 20% of its population.

21. Neoliberalism globalizes poverty, not development.

22. The debt of poor countries has already been paid by ever-falling-terms-of-trade. (That is why the HR-based framework calls for debt relief for the poorest countries).

23. Money equals force in the market; therefore, those with money dominate. So world trade is a means of domination of the rich countries.

24. The laws of supply and demand can fix the market price of bread, tortillas, cassava or rice, but they do nothing to alleviate hunger as a key HR violation.

25. The invisible hand of the market has no capacity to imagine or create a decent society for all.

26. Globalization does not have a human face; it has a cynical human mask.

27. In the era of globalization, progress means inequality and for its staunch promoters, reason means self-interest.

28. There is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.

29. In the struggle for the alleviation of poverty, the check has come back from the 'Bank of Justice' marked "insufficient funds".

30. Income for the poor is perhaps the best guarantee of health and food security.

31. It took Britain the exploitation of half the globe to be what it is today; how many globes would India need?

32. As the threat from the many HR violations we see worldwide increases, so does the cost of inaction.

33. Social justice and the universal respect of HR will not succeed if it remains the sole concern of intellectuals.

34. Death is a social disease: How often do we overlook this axiom?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Getting my priorities right

This month we are conducting an intensive campaign in the 21 villages of our health outreach programme to detect new cases of TB following a spurt in the incidence of the disease among newly returned migrant workers. This however sometimes adds a little surreality to my life.

Picture a bearded lab technician, a thin young doctor and an elderly Malavasi woman who is the local health auxiliary driving through the Avalur valley on a motorcycle. We stop at a house where the health auxiliary says she swears the man coughs a lot. He is not at home but has gone out with his goats. So the health auxiliary sets off down the road calling you his name while we sputter along behind her on the bike. Suddenly there is an answering call from up ahead. Soon an elderly man comes into view.

"Do you cough a lot, Aiya?", I ask as I dismount the bike. "Not really", he says, "But I occasionally have shooting pains down the side of my leg." "No cough? No fever? No weight loss?", I persist. "No, just leg pain", he replies. "He does cough", says the health auxiliary testily, possibly upset that her find is no longer allowing her prove that she has indeed surveyed the village for people with possible symptoms of TB. "Well, I occasionally cough at night", he finally admits. He soon finds himself sitting side-saddle on our motorcycle which is parked on the middle of the road while I auscultate his chest. The lab technician mutters darkly about the value of time. "Can you give us some sputum to test?", I ask. "I don't want a plastic cup", he says, viewing the proffered sputum cup suspiciously, "But if you have medicines for my leg pain I will surely take that."