“Animal Farm” in Global Health

One of the most interesting things I have come to confirm during my fellowship (either through sifting through literature or attending stakemeetings) is that “animal farm” also exists even in public health. It even makes me read “the rage against the machine” article even more. When one hears the words structural violence, one quickly jumps to the conclusion that certain elements in society have conspired to dominate and exploit the poor and that these elements will do everything possible to maintain this status quo.
But now I am increasingly wondering how different the organizations championing social justice cause are from corporations, political parties, and government. Like in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, these NGOs championing social justice cause are founded to fight for honorable causes. One does not need to look very far notice this; their mission statements and visions say it all.
Along the way it seems these organizations seem to forget what they stand for but instead focus more keeping themselves in business rather than to serve the people. It is so shocking to see organization failing to combine their efforts when working on similar issues. It seems some organizations care about is creating a name for themselves and hence attract more financial support. Even more terrifying is the realization that some of these organizations have being created to give a day job to a few individuals; some owners of orphanages for example, have become more wealthy than the children they claim to serve. The HIV/AIDS funding has equally created some very wealthy individuals in my country; the Global Funds scandal illustrates this point clearly.
Perhaps the one thing I am beginning to question more and more is people’s motivation for joining the global health sphere. Just like the corporations, the field seems to attract leaders with the biggest egos. Some promote their philosophies at the expense of the people they serve. Most of the ideas they promote ideas that have very little effect on the lives of people they serve. Even though organizations that purport to fight injustice in the world are increasingly looking like the structures that actually perpetrate the very injustice, I still have hope that things can change for the better. I believe that what is lacking is leadership in the field of global health. I equally believe that the Global Health Corps leadership philosophy is exactly what leaders need in the global health space. The fellowship has enabled me to increasingly question seemingly innocent realities. What is even more exciting is that I have met fellows who share the same values. Lastly, I believe that as the GHC alumni grows and takes up more leadership positions, the “animal farm” in global health will slowly change into a justice farm.