The Betrayal of Trust, by Laurie Garrett, is another must-read for those of you who have a deep interest in global public health and a deeper interest in wanting to see improvements in the practice of public health.
Praise for the Author
First, praise for Laurie Garrett as an author. Her writing is compelling. She weaves beautiful stories out of tragedy and paints a picture with her carefully chosen words. I have read other books by Garrett, including The Coming Plague, and will keep coming back for more. I did not mind the length of the book, coming in at a hefty 768 pages, but then again, I am an avid reader and this is my field of interest.
Building the Case
Garrett outlines how public health interventions, such as the public supply of clean water, have brought us this far. We are living longer than our ancestors and, arguably, we are living “better”. However, she posits that the world’s public health organizations are in a woeful state with disastrous preparation for “the BIG one”. Collectively and globally, she warns of a lack of preparedness of public health agencies. However, the public health agencies, as underfunded and resourced as they are, are our best defense against microbial threats (through efforts to vaccinate large swaths of the pubic, maintenance of sanitation systems, and responses to actual or perceived threats).
She builds the case that public health systems keep us safe and healthy now. It also ensure readiness for a superbug, a biological threat, and a safe water supply. Public health so often functions in the shadows. We count disease, test the water, make sure your food is safe, and who remind you to get vaccinated. It is the work that helps to build optimism around the elimination of polio or smallpox. And, importantly to me, that work, builds equality and cuts through some of the injustices we see in our world. So, when you hear about CDC or local health department funding cuts, call your representative to protest. We need public health!