BRIAN TILL: Paul Farmer, you’ve just opened this incredible new hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. It has 300 beds. It’s entirely solar-powered at peak daylight. And you’ve built it as an institution that will belong to Haiti, to the Haitian Ministry of Health. I think it’s sort of the dream of anyone who’s thought a lot about global health. How’s it going so far?
PAUL FARMER: It’s going great. It opened a few weeks ago. It’s just a beautiful facility and there’s just so much need and there’s great enthusiasm — not only among patients, but among the clinicians, the doctors, and the nurses..
To speak for a moment about the subtext of that quote, though, because Lowe raised the same, subtly disparaging point on our call: If Angola wants to take 0.01 percent of its GDP and build a tropical disease institute in Luanda, I think that’s fucking awesome.
For almost a decade, the United States has been standing in the way of an idea that could lead to cures for some of the world’s most devastating illnesses. The class of maladies is known as neglected diseases, and they almost exclusively affect those in the developing world. The same idea, if realized, might also be used in more affluent nations to goad the pharmaceutical industry into producing critical innovations that the free market has yet to produce – things like new antibiotics, which are likely to be used judiciously, and are unlikely to be wildly profitable.
But the idea, which advocates have outlined as a treaty, and which will have its fate decided next week at the World Health Organization (WHO) where it has languished for years amid bureaucratic tumult, is “good enough to be dangerous,” in the words of one person close to the negotiations. It has thus drawn the fierce opposition of those who benefit most from the status quo, the pharmaceutical giants and the nations that claim them.
“It’s a precedent. It’s a competing paradigm,” Jamie Love, 63, the director of Knowledge Ecology International, a progressive group agitating in favor of the idea, told me. “And the Obama administration, instead of wrapping its arms around it and trying to breathe some life into the future so we don’t have $200,000 drugs, is fucking killing it.”
In 1994, God told David Thompson to start training surgeons in Africa. Thompson was in the fifteenth year of a mission to Gabon at the time, in West Africa. “I just realized that I couldn’t keep up with the demand,” Thompson told me.
Thompson is tall. He wears a mustache, and has deep creases alongside his eyes and mouth. I asked him how God had spoken to him. “I had a habit of spending about an hour a day early in the morning reading the Bible and praying and meditating on it and listening to see what God said to me,” he said.
“We have a crisis of leadership in America,’’ said William Deresiewicz, a former Yale English professor, in a lecture last year, “because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going . . . who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place.’’
Had bin Laden been blown to pieces by way of B2 bomber, nobody would be wasting black pixels on the ridiculous questions that are now dominating news: Was the woman killed his wife? Was she used as a human shield? Was bin Laden holding a gun?
Hondros, Hetherington, and Marinovich ran into the flames so that we might all bear witness, so that suffering of the world and the courage of our soldiers might not remain silent. But if we look the other way, or worse, if we look but then remain silent, we fail them and their work.
“By the middle of the century,” he said, “the Hispanics and the Afro-Americans, these two minorities together, on the one hand they will form a majority of the electorate, and on the other hand they will demand social security for themselves. They will demand access to colleges and to universities and to positions higher up in the economy and the society.”
Only two U.S. nuclear sites are in compliance with federal fire regulations. How confident can we be that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has things firmly in hand?
Book out May 10 2011, June 7 in the UK.
Fresh out of college and certain that leaders were failing to rise to the challenges of the century, Brian Till set out to interview some the world’s most esteemed former presidents and prime ministers, whom, he reasoned, were far more likely to speak candidly than their successors in office today. His intuition and audacity were rewarded. He soon found himself discussing the threats of terrorism and climate change, the changing nature of leadership and role of women in the world, innovation, coups, classical music and cars with some of most pivotal figures of the last quarter century. In these unguarded conversation, Till presents nuances of power, the failings of the post-Cold War leaders, and the old guard’s prescient and inspiring words for a generation facing challenges that bested them.