I read it so you don’t have to.
Pathologies of Power outlines what Partners In Health means when it talks about striving to create a “preferential option for the poor in healthcare.”
In its origins, the concept was connected with the the liberation theology movement of the mid-20th century. The option for the poor was first articulated by Father Gustavo Gutiérrez in his book A Theology of Liberation. Gutiérrez writes that the principle is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments. He claims that a preferential concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of the poor is an essential element of the Gospel. For Partners In Health, this principle translates into providing healthcare services to the most impoverished people and communities within a country. For example, when Partners In Health started working in Malawi, they chose to work in Neno. Neno, at that time, was a rural and fairly inaccessible community. Those who follow this principle work in solidarity with the most impoverished people to create social justice. Through the work of Partners In Health the community has begun to flourish.
Preferential Option for the Poor
For many years, PIH shared Pathologies of Power Chapter 5 with new employees as it calls upon public health practitioners to be community-based, patient-centered and open towards others: to “observe, judge, act.”
Dr. Farmer borrows the social justice framework from liberation theology. The framework emphasizes our collective responsibility to fight alongside community partners for liberation from social, political, and economic oppression/structural violence.
What do you think of this approach?
Gutiérrez wrote his book in 1971. Are the principles still relevant?
Is there anything problematic about this framing?