[Marxism] Fwd: Paul Farmer · Who Lives and Who Dies: Who survives? · LRB 5 February 2015

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 29 20:52:49 MST 2015

One afternoon in October 1988, I was leaving a friend’s house in 
Cambridge, Massachusetts in a self-important rush: a medical student 
also getting a degree in anthropology, I was headed back to Haiti, then 
experiencing a great political upheaval. My friend was one of the 
founders of Partners In Health, which we believed, even then, might make 
a difference in rural Haiti and beyond. But that’s not the reason I was 
in a rush: I was eager to correct the proofs of an academic paper (my 
first) before boarding an early flight to Port-au-Prince, where 
electricity and postal services were uncertain. The paper was on the 
political economy of health and illness in Haiti. I was also distracted 
(distressed, really) because three of the Haitian founders of PIH, all 
in their twenties, had recently died stupid deaths. The first of 
puerperal sepsis shortly after childbirth; the second of cerebral 
malaria in a psychiatrist’s waiting room after being misdiagnosed as 
psychotic; the third of typhoid fever, a rare infection where there is 
modern sanitation; it had eaten through his small intestine and he died 
as he was being rolled into one of the operating rooms of Haiti’s large, 
dysfunctional university hospital. My three co-workers, seriously ill, 
found themselves at the door of the House of No, even as they were 
working to dismantle it.

Unlike my Haitian co-workers, in 1988 I escaped a stupid death. Outside 
my friend’s house in Cambridge, I ran to catch a bus. A car in the first 
lane slowed and waved me across Huron Avenue. I turned back to my friend 
and, referring to my paper, said: ‘You’re not paying attention.’ A car 
in the second lane hit me, knocking me in front of the bus, which 
swerved just in time. I tried to get up and out of the way of the 
traffic, but failed: my left leg was broken. But lying in the road, I 
was already grateful for two things: that the bus I’d missed had missed 
me, and that I would soon be in a proper hospital.

full: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n03/paul-farmer/who-lives-and-who-dies

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