High-tech medical advances often spark the hope that we are winning the war against disease. At the same time, however, viruses are devastating much of the world and age-old afflictions like tuberculosis still rage out of control in many countries. Misery is very much alive and well. So, what can be done?
Arguing that social standing has more influence on health than all the medical advances of the past century combined, some health activists have proposed that the standard medical model of illness, which focuses on the body, needs to be revamped to reflect the biosocial influences on health and healthcare. Harvard University physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer hopes that medical research will evolve away from “industrial science” and toward a more humane “progressive science” one that may better address the hurdles to health faced by the poor.
Farmer and other activists have been heavily influenced by the work of DT. Rudolph Virchow, who wrote a report that is considered one of the major founding works of modern public health, He believed that the diseases of his time required more than the attention of the medical community:they necessitated government action to provide greater freedom and better social welfare to all citizens. Virchow was a pioneer who foresaw that health specialists needed a multidisciplinary perspective to help them understand how politics and culture affect health.
Similarly, Farmcr argues that “inequality itself constitutes our modern plague,” and that little progress can be made until the medical world realizes how “fundamentally social forces and processes come to be embodied as biological events.” Farmer believes that social determinants underlying the cause and spread of disease are many, including overpopulation, environmental damage, climate change, and the speed of imitational travel, which has, in effect, shrunk our planet ― all factors that the majority of medical researchers have largely ignored up to now.