Haiti is the target of an overwhelming number of internationally funded health projects. While religious institutions sponsor a number of these initiatives, many are implemented within the secular framework of global health. In Where They Need Me: Local Clinicians and the Workings of Global Health in Haiti (Cornell UP, 2022), Pierre Minn illustrates the divergent criteria that actors involved in global health use to evaluate interventions’ efficacy through examining the work of Haitian health professionals in humanitarian aid encounters.
Haitian physicians, nurses, and administrative staff are hired to carry out these global health programs, distribute or withhold resources, and produce accounts of interventions’ outcomes. In their roles as intermediaries, Haitian clinicians are expected not only to embody the humanitarian projects of foreign funders and care for their impoverished patients but also to act as sources of support for their own kin networks, while negotiating their future prospects in a climate of pronounced scarcity and insecurity. Minn argues that a serious consideration of these local health care providers in the context of global health is essential to counter simplistic depictions of clinicians and patients as heroes, villains, or victims as well as to move beyond the donor-recipient dyad that has dominated theoretical work on humanitarianism and the gift.
Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author. She was chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego before moving to the UK in 2021.
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