Living in South Kingstown and having to commute 40minutes to RIC everyday is indeed tiring, but getting to live near the URI campus has proved to be an awesome resource for my education, especially for this class! Earlier this semester I attended a URI Honors Colloquium presentation where Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Medical Director for Partners in Health, was presenting on public health, and how important it is to provide better and more accessible healthcare internationally. She made a huge point about how with America’s advances in medical technology and our capability to help others around the world without such advantages, that healthcare needs to be better recognized as a basic human right. I can’t see how anyone could know that a huge percentage of the world’s population simply doesn’t have any access to healthcare, know exactly what they need, and still refuse to help. Luckily, there are some pretty amazing people who recognize that fact, and are willing and passionate about making their life purpose to help these people that are so often forgotten or ignored.
Dr. Muhkerjee has completely dedicated her life to working in Peru, Uganda and Haiti to not only help cure and prevent diseases, but to also ease the burden that disease has on a community. She emphasized that bringing health care to places where there is none, where disease outbreaks kill and infect people everyday, has to be locally practiced, but globally funded. In some of the examples she gave about HIV/AIDS, cholera, and drug resistant TB outbreaks present in the poorest countries on earth, it was hard to hear about all people that were completely aware of it happening, yet were reluctant to help because of the “cost”. This absolutely blows my mind because the cost in terms of money that programs like Partners in Health need to make the necessary changes, couldn’t possibly amount to the physical and emotional cost that these diseases have on not only the individual person afflicted with disease, but on the local communities and global communities. She mentioned that in Peru in 1994, one of the leaders there actually said that because of how expensive treatment would be to cure one patient from drug resistant TB, approximately $30,000 each, that “the poor people are just going to have to die”. For a leader of a country to say that about the fate of their citizens is incredibly disturbing and irresponsible. It is a global responsibility to provide aid and treatment to all humans, and the belief that allowing people to die is the only way to fix a problem is simply a failure of imagination and a complete lack of effort and concern.
After what we’ve learned in class about feminism and social justice this semester, I’m so glad that as I can look back on this presentation and have it mean so much more to me. As someone who will be educated in nursing and working on relief efforts, I can look at this as an issue of healthcare, but as someone who is learning to be an ally for social justice, the whole picture becomes so much clearer. These issues simply cannot be ignored!