Thursday, June 25, 2009

life you can save, part two

So I was kind of stoked to see one of the organizations I am excited about profiled in The Life You Can Save. I read Mountains Beyond Mountains last year (like the rest of America) and we challenged and struck by Paul Farmer's work with Partners in Health, his life, and his example. His service to the patients he serves is so extreme as to make me uncomfortable--with him and with myself.
We often choose to support Christian organizations, and PIH isn't, in name (though it's inspired a lot by liberation theology, and by Jesus himself). But PIH's committment to the worth of the people they serve is overwhelming. They airlift Haitians to Boston for lifesaving cancer treatments if no help in Haiti is available. It may not be cost-effective, when compared to other NGOs, but Farmer argues that if we'd do it for someone in the US, we should be willing to pay for people in Haiti to do the same. That kind of attention to people's intrinsic worth seems extremely Christian to me.
That's not to say that PIH doesn't have their eye on cost-effective treatment and interventions that actually change lives. They approach health care in a holistic way: if people have tuberculosis, the state of their house and their nutrition has as much to do with their recovery as drug treatments. So they end up treating a lot of social ills that aren't included in most medical schools' training.
And they were able to show to GiveWell that they have made a hard-nosed, measurable difference in the communities they serve (they started in Haiti, but have moved to Russia, South America, and Africa, as well).
So go and donate, already! Give some love to PIH.

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