Farmer ties cancer care to global health system strengthening
16 Mar 2011
In an interview published in the March 2011 issue of Scientific American, Paul Farmer discusses the need to improve treatment of cancer among lower and middle income populations. He relates attention to cancer as a global health issue to the history of the global response to infectious disease, and notes that few, if any, major programs existed to fund diagnosis and treatment for AIDS and other infectious diseases before this decade, when the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were established. He points out that these agencies were established in recognition of the transnational quality of these infectious diseases and “changed the landscape” of global health, where previously approaches were limited by ideas of what individual poor countries could afford to spend on health care. Echoing the “call to action” that he and several collaborators, including Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Felicia Knaul, Associate Professor of Medicine and of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Lawrence Shulman, Chief Medical Officer of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and others, published in the Lancet (2010; 376:1186-93), Dr. Farmer advocates for a strategy of preventing, diagnosing, treating and palliating cancer in the context of overall strengthening of health systems. Link to the interview and related resources.