Closing Thoughts on the Bootcamp

**by Anish Parekh**

I think the main “whys” that pulled me into global health are: 

– Why is it that health and economic developmental disparities exist in the world, and how can I help solve them from a biosocial perspective? 

– Why do the people in the status uo feel that they don’t need to invest or give reparations to countries that were former colonies or heavily enslaved? 

– Why do I feel like global health as it currently stands is essentially neocolonialism? 

– Why is healthcare so expensive globally, but especially in the US, and how do we provide high quality / lower cost care to everyone (rather than just those in power)?

– Why is it so hard to get funding to do something good in the world (ie global health or global scope developmental projects, or even global health careers in general) when stupid movies like “a dog’s life” get funded so easily in hollywood? 

– For that matter, why does the American public give money to these stupid movies anyway??? Not very pertinent to global health, but has baffled me for ages… 

– More relevant: Why have we as a society decided that it is financially unsustainable to provide free healthcare? Why have we decided that it is not financially sustainable to provide global health? 

– Why is there such a disjunct between needs of poor individuals in LMICs and what is actually delivered to them (including adjunctive services) through NGOs and US based aid groups? 

I have felt for quite a while that global health efforts (through missions, etc) is tantamount to neocolonialism in many cases. I think my main takeaway from this course is that i was right to an extent, and the reason is that these health outreach efforts were rooted in colonialism (something which I suspected, but it was helpful to confirm). I still feel like just unilaterally focusing on health without accompanying economic and sociologic investment will not provide sustainable change, and health outcomes will continue to lag, but it was heartening to meet indidivudals who are focusing on health equity through their work in global health. It made the idea of a career in global health much more palatable, and not just like I was contributing to neocolonization and extractive economy (though I often feel like western researchers engage in intellectual extraction, where they write a lot of papers about other cultures without actually providing any benefit to the studied population). 
The other takeaway for me was that I think we were trained fairly well in looking at the big picture for the practicalities of starting interventions on the ground. I’m not sure this is something I will end up doing, but looking at things from a practical perspective is helpful when designing policy and direct interventions. We got a taste of this on the last day with the “help the Na’vi” activity (James Cameron’s Avatar movie is essentially the epitome of the white liberal’s dream — not only is the white savior complex pornographically displayed, but they also appropriate the very bodies of the “natives” in order to capitalize on their racial differences). Regardless of how loathsome I find his movie, the activity was quite good at working through the nitty-gritty of designing an intervention. 

Posted in BMC

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