Week 8

Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania

In the article, “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Tanzania” written by Kristin Phillip, Phillips examines the East African food crisis of 2006 and its effect on Tanzania. She discusses how food was being used as a political weapon against the people of Tanzania. The Tanzanians were forced to suffer through a drought that took away all their means of living and food. Food aid that was being received were used as political leverage between the leaders and the poor villagers had to fight for the food that was originally given to them but controlled by the government. The people had to rebel and fight for their food but still rural farmers suffered the most. With the drought the farmers are suffering and continues not to see the food aid because the government uses it as political power. This enforces the socioeconomic privilege of the people in power and of the richer people. While middle class Tanzanians are given food, the poor still remain hungry. The leaders exploited the poor during the time of hungry, by basically selling life.
“The news that some regional and district leaders had come by sacks of grain to sell at increased prices raised suspicion about the real whereabouts of food aid.”
This article goes back to this weeks reading about the health disparities of the poor from Framer’s book. This is proof how the poor are denied access to what should be basic human rights/goods but are denied it due to lack of money or political level. The socioeconomic status determines the quality of life you have and resources you are able to afford. An interesting fact I learned from this article is how good glows are gendered. Depending on your gender your food flow would be different. This shows women are often better for the community as a whole since they focus on the importance of food and family, rather the importance of wealth.

“Whereas the flows of food among women (food of the farm) generally tend
to produce material reciprocity, flows of food among men (food of wealth)
tend to produce political obligation gendered food flows”

Zimbabwe has been accused of using food aide for political power. The New York Times ran an article about it in 2008 —– > http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/world/africa/12zimbabwe.html

This is a blog piece about Zimbabwe also.

Medical Ethics

In Chapter 8 of Paul Farmer’s, Pathologies of Power, Farmer focuses on the bioethics of the current world and how the gap between the poor and rich is widening because of expanding globalization. The human right to have health care and be offered life and death services if they are available. The only thing keeping many people in developing countries from dying is the access to health care that can be solved by making it a global human right for everyone. Global equity can not be achieved unless the capitalist mindset is erased and people live with compassion and universal moral laws. The need for money is higher than the end to save a human life. People who are poor are seen as non-existent and not important. The cost of a life of someone who is poor is not relevant for people who rich and ignore the health disparities which exist between them. Farmer mentioned the Tuskegee Syphilis Study where the marginalization and the violation of the African American mens’ human rights by using them in medical research because of their skin color.
This is a perfect example of genocide due to lack of resources. Poor people are unable to have the proper procedures, medical research, and access to physicians. If physicians were forced to do a certain number of years in an extremely poor part of their country or another country before they were able to practice in their own firms or privately. Universal health care is helping the poor in United States thanks to Obama. Now we just have to get universal health care for the whole world. Hopes and Dreams.

More info on …
Disparities in Health: Inequities Create Great Risks for Poor, Adolescents, and Women in Developing Countries —-> http://www.dcp2.org/features/12/disparities-in-health-inequities-create-great-risks-for-poor-adolescents-and-women-in-developing-countries

Benevolence or Manipulation?

In Kristin D. Phillip’s article, “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania” the author discusses how low socioeconomic status was manipulated so that politicians can gain power by distributing food aid. Therefore, under the guise of attempting to feed the have-nots and cure famine relief, Tanzanian leaders are able to amass support. The people of Tanzania support the government because they have no one else to go to.

The article reminded me of the Cambodian genocide. After gaining independence, the newly established democratic republic government had not been doing so well which was one of the factors that allowed the Khmer Rouge communist forces to come into power and eventually commit mass genocide. When the city was evacuated, people were promised a better future and a new improved society. Instead, 2 million perished under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Additionally, the US government supported the Khmer Rouge with aid after their regime ended because the US was fighting against the Vietnamese at the time.

These events demonstrate how many underlying political and economic forces are in play when government promises better living conditions for their citizens (i.e. by providing welfare/food aid.) When developed countries assist a poorer country, there always seems to be a hidden agenda. In a recent article about US and North Korean relationships, the US was cautious about its food aid deal for political reasons; I’m not saying we should ignore the complex relationship between countries but this article implies that politics seem to dominate over a general concern for public health.

Learn more about the US’s food aid deal with North Korea: http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/01/u-s-cautiously-optimistic-after-food-aid-deal-with-north-korea/

Food Politics

In Kristin Phillips’ article, “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania” she discusses the politics of food. The people of Tanzania are being stripped of their agency because of their dependence on food. Food aid is converted into political power in order to acquire the people’s votes. Once the elections are over, the food aid trickles down to nothing until the next elections. By doing this, people do not protest the structures of power that is keeping them in poverty and keeping them dependent on food aid. They are often faced with food shortages, “in the last decade… the Nyturu ethnic group, have faced three severe food shortages. Interestingly enough, hunger and shame go hand in hand. Political figures are criticized when people die from hunger, and it’s so deeply connected with politicians, that regional government medicals officials were deployed to a village in order to counter the claims of deaths from starvation.

Governments have a duty to their people to make sure that its citizens, and what would even be ideal, is that there would be enough jobs so that people would have enough to buy their food and serve the economy. In a way it’s in a country’s best interest to provide for its citizens because when mass starvations occur, people are too weak to really contribute anything to the country.

In North Korean during the 1990s “widespread famine devastated North Korea, killing over 2.5 million, and perhaps upwards of 3.7 million.” It wasn’t the result of a natural disaster, but the result of government diverting its resources. Food is used to control the population, but the result has been many deaths, and by denying food the government participated in genocide by neglect

More on North Korean’s mass starvations:


Medical Ethics

In chapter eight, of Paul farmer’s “Pathologies of Power,” medical ethics is discussed, and he states that healthcare should be provided for everyone, he make a great point by stating that “if by everybody” we truly mean everybody” (212). Groups can easily be denied access to healthcare if they are not view as citizens of the nation. In a developing country, if a doctor does not provide healthcare to a patient simply because the patient does not have the proper passport or documentation, people would be up an arms for such an injustice to occur. Here in the U.S,. law have been passed—Prop 187—to prevent undocumented people from having any access to public services.

It goes back to who is considered human enough to have human rights and having access to healthcare. If people are not considered citizens than it is easier for them to be denied services, and it’s easier for them to be ignored just as senior citizens were in the Chicago heat wave.

More on Prop 187:


Article on Health Care Reform and Undocumented:


Changing the Face of Medical Ethics

The founding of medical ethics can be partly be attributed to the actions of Nazi doctors during the Holocaust. These “doctors” violated the sacred contract between physician and patient. While these heinous crimes are on the extreme end of the spectrum, are doctors living up to the expectations of medical ethics today? But first, what is forefront of bioethics today? In a chapter entitled “New Malaise” in Paul Farmer’s “Pathologies of Power,” Farmer argues that no, today’s bioethics is catered towards the privileged (ethical dilemmas include genetic testing, doctor-patient relationships, life-prolonging techniques, etc.) instead of considering a large percentage of the world’s population who are living in poverty, unable to access the healthcare necessary to sustain their livelihoods. Global healthcare equity should be at the forefront of bioethics and when we say healthcare for everybody, it should be for everybody as opposed to just the privileged.

However, even if health professionals and governments adopt this mindset, I still do not believe that we will ever come close to achieving global health equity. Who is obligated to pay for a global healthcare system and how do we not allow socioeconomic status to determine who gets better healthcare? Will the affluent really be willing to sacrifice the privilege of a high socioeconomic status in order to provide healthcare for the destitute? I don’t think so. Despite the intricacies of implementing a global healthcare system, health professionals and policymakers should, however, strive for global health equity as much as possible.

Read about complications for bioethics created by the Nazi era: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1484488/

-Jessica Heng