Garbage in Global Health

I am dreaming of my next visit to Kripalu. At the Canadian Conference for International Health, I think I felt the flavour of burn-out for the first time. As I sat and listened to the experts talk at us about global primary health care, it all sounded like garbage. Garbage in the sense that it had been recycled from talks given over and over again; ideas that no longer resonate with any innovation or vigour. They sounded like dead ideas, ideas without champions, ideas without groundedness or depth. Just sentences about health for all, dangling in thin air without anyone feeling or grasping them.

Does this mean I am burnt out about global health, or I am just in it really deeply? I eat, breathe and live ‘global health’ to the point where I don’t really understand its definition or meaning, its scope, progress or future. I cannot see the forest for the trees sometimes; what does global health mean for real?

Today one of my friends (and personal hero) Rhona emailed me about a Lancet event called “The right to health: from rhetoric to reality”. I was so excited at the thought – we’re going to go beyond rhetoric? Only real believers and drivers of global health can do this. I want to see it.

Where do I stand in this mess of global health action? I stand in a place where I want true commitment beyond good intentions, and true, deep action that doesn’t look for praise or agreement, but instead looks for honest changes in the way people experience their own health at any level. I don’t know where I will find the energy to continue on this type of path. Thankfully, I’ve met some of the other people who are on it. My invisible network of changemakers and leaders that guide and inspire me as a leader.

But for the energy, where will I find it? I know it will be back; I had it in my hands for the last two years. It has only recently escaped. Funnily I’ve watched it escape some of my own peers in global health, some of my close friends. We are all in clerkship, and we are tired. We all need the energy back.

I always find my footing and my energy at Kripalu. So when can I get back there? … not until March 2009. Until then?


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