Disease. Drought. Conflict. It is not your imagination; there are more emergencies today than in years past. Storms are growing more frequent and extreme in some regions, while other areas are becoming more arid, with growing seasons disappearing before farmers’ eyes. More competition for scarce resources means more displacement and more conflict.
Strengthening health systems comes down to staff, stuff, space, systems and support. Whether providing primary care or responding to deadly outbreaks of infectious diseases, a holistic approach that places the patient and their community at the center of care and treatment is essential. In this episode, Dr. Paul Farmer and I discuss how human connection and authentic partnership should remain at the center of public health and human development work.
Dr. Paul Farmer is the Co-Founder, Chief Strategist and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Partners in Health, and a medical anthropologist, physician and author. His most recent book is Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History. His positive approach to disrupting under-resourced and poorly performing health systems is simple yet holistic: Address unmet needs for staff, stuff, space, systems and support.
In the 2019 season of A Deeper Look podcast, we examined the darker side of development — the unintended consequences of development efforts, the paradoxes that we confront, the harm that the best intentions can sometimes cause and the lessons we can learn by discussing uncomfortable, even threatening, topics.
Each one of my guests brought a unique perspective to this theme, yet it’s possible to distill a number of common concerns. More than one guest described the long-term nature of development as a journey, and many emphasized the importance of humility in this work. Although our theme for the year was dark, the perspectives, insights and commitment of my guests give me hope that we, as a community, are more willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and do better.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to tune in, I encourage you to listen to all of the episodes in this season’s A Deeper Look on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts. Here are some takeaways.
This post was originally published on FHI Partners.
According to Peter Drucker, the noted management theorist, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” When I reflect on my time working with private-sector organizations, government agencies and international nongovernmental organizations — all of which were focused on solving global human development challenges — I recall the common refrain that “we can’t do it alone.” Only by working together do we stand a chance to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity. But sentiment alone is not enough.
The promise of partnerships has resulted in an active body of work focused on facilitating public-private partnerships and devising private-sector engagement strategies, with the Sustainable Development Goals at the center of this dialogue. Specifically, private-sector involvement is increasingly called upon to drive global socio-ecological change. The increasing overlap between development and commercial challenges provides fertile ground for robust collaboration. However, we need to move beyond the announcements, handshakes and high-level dialogue.