Wednesday, November 3, 2010

book review: Mountains Beyond Mountains

I read this book twice. In one week.  As soon as I finished it, I started over again so I could absorb it a bit more.  And I am going to buy a copy when I go home for Christmas so I can reread it on a regular basis.

So how is that for a positive book review?

This book tells the story of Dr Paul Farmer, a man currently devoting his life to making sure people the world over get health care.  And not just the basic first aid level of care many poor patients, but the same level of care that is provided for the best insured patient  in the best hospitals in the US. To quote Dr Farmer,“…the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.”  Just because you are poor does not mean your life matters less. Having worked in health care both in poor areas in the states and in a third world country, I can tell you that this goal is considered radical, unachievable, and potentially harmful by many funding organizations and health care workers themselves. And yet Dr Farmer is acheiving this goal, small step by small step.

Though Dr Farmer's work is amazing (I had read a few of his own books on the subject before and also recommend them), what really inspired me in this book was Dr Farmer himself.  This man lives and works in the most desperate of poor nations, Haiti, and faces the  frustrations of convoluted, inefficient bureaucracy and lack of supplies and money that one sees in third world countries.  Yet he doesn't allow himself to become discouraged, or settle for less because the fight is too hard.  He treats each and every one of his patients as if they were the only, most important patient.  He treats his patients (and everyone else he interacts with) as human beings.  And the best part is he keeps his sense of humor while doing so.

Here is another quote from Dr Farmer that I think encapsulates him:
“When I was sick, when I was in prison, when I needed clothes, you gave me, et cetera. We got those covered. One thing that comes back to me, with all this cost-efficacy crap, if I saved one patient my whole life, that wouldn’t be too bad.  What did you do with your life? I saved [a baby], got a guy out of jail.  So I’m lucky. To have a chance to save a zillion of them, I dig that.” 

Read this book.  It will inspire you to be a better person.

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