In 2013 I moved to Ndola, a city in northern Zambia, to work on an HIV research project. Ndola is the hub of the country’s copper mining industry, a bustling commercial center that draws entrepreneurs from South Africa and beyond. My organization worked with government clinics in villages around the Ndola area to provide HIV and family-planning counseling, care, and education. I’d recently graduated from a master’s program in public health, and a US-based research organization had hired me to co-lead a year-long study of HIV infection among women.
During the week, my office prepared truckloads of supplies—test kits, condoms, appointment logbooks—and shipped them to the clinics. Once every week, our doctors also treated patients at our headquarters in the city. Ndola, Zambia’s third-largest city, had a great need for affordable, high-quality health care. If at times the cityscape seemed picturesque to me—jacaranda-lined dirt roads, merchants bearing enormous bowls of vegetables upon their heads, uniformed schoolchildren gleefully walking back home at the end of day—there were always reminders of Zambia’s extreme, endemic poverty. For many of the children I saw, home was the sprawling encampments on the city’s outskirts—a maze of rudimentary, one-room structures that housed entire families.
All the discussions today of how much racial progress we’ve made since Dr. Martin Luther King was alive reminded me of a disturbing point about the black−white health gap mentioned in recent research, some of which I discussed in an Atlantic
essay over the weekend.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans have been catching up
with whites in terms of life expectancy at birth. So things are looking up, right?
Yes, and no. To a sizeable extent, what explains the narrowing of the life-expectancy gap in the last couple decades is not just that things are better for African Americans (though they have improved), but also that things are worse for whites—working-class whites above all.
I had no friend quite like Ed. We also hated each other.
He was with me all the time. He knew all my secrets. When I was in high school, all I wanted was to be perfect. At 5:30 a.m. I would run six miles. Then, after school, I would study until 10 p.m., breaking only for dinner. I always had to get an A. He understood why I would wrap my hips and abdomen in duct tape to keep it all in, so that my tight pants would fit perfectly and no amount of fat could bubble over the top.
When we had meals together, he would reassure me that it was okay to eat only fruits and vegetables. He would agree when I would say, “I'm fat, I need to lose weight.” He saw what I saw in the mirror.
Best of In The Fray 2014.
Once thought cured by modern medicine, tuberculosis is making a global comeback. Rampant misuse of antibiotics and broken health-care systems have spawned deadly, drug-resistant strains that are now present in virtually every country.
At the heart of Sister, Brenda Davis' documentary debut, are three inspiring stories of an Ethiopian health officer, a midwife in rural Cambodia, and a traditional birth attendant in Haiti. When Davis met Goitom Berhane in Ethiopia in 2008, she was taken with his vivacious personality and dedication to solving the maternal health crisis in his country. Goitom's example encouraged Davis to explore women's health as an international human rights issue. Eventually, he became a central figure in her film.
After her mother's unexplained death, a young woman ponders the long-term toll of not having access to adequate health care. A toothache brings on psychic hysteria about whether her own eventual demise will align with that of her mom.
Raised fatherless and poor in a Haitian coastal town, Dr. Jean-Gardy Marius studied medicine abroad thanks to the financial assistance of an American missionary. Now he is leading an innovative, grassroots effort to root out cholera and bring communities in Haiti’s rural north to health and self-sufficiency.
In this excerpt from her recently published book Generation Roe, pro-choice activist Sarah Erdreich talks with women who had an abortion and discusses the complicated set of emotions they bring to the abortion debate — even decades after the procedure.
This month Americans are celebrating two historic victories for sexual rights handed down by the Supreme Court: the eradication of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the weakening of a law that required groups fighting AIDS to make an "antiprostitution pledge."
He used to make counterfeit credit cards. Now Mansfield Frazier has embarked on an even more audacious project: launching a commercial vineyard in the middle of a poor, inner-city Cleveland neighborhood.
No surprise here. Faced with the possibility of lost revenue, infant formula companies put the squeeze on breastfeeding.