Why do we not speak of our compassion and spiritual, core values in public health?
This is the key question we addressed in this 9 March Global Health, Nutrition and HIV CoP Webex.
To understand the role of spirituality in global health practice and identify factors that influence and limit its expression, Dr. Addiss initiated conversations and informal interviews with more than 300 global health leaders, students, and practitioners.
Four challenges contributing to a lack of connection with the values that drew global health practitioners to the field emerged:
- compassion at a distance
- dichotomous thinking
- conspiracy of silence
- compulsion to save the world.
Today's discussion included questions such as What is compassion? Can we define it as service motivated by love? How do we measure compassion? The participants agree that "our action in global health is "mad dog" impressive... but we are so busy we forget to quiet our own spirit."
Center for Compassion and Global Health: www.ccagh.org
Dr. David Addiss is a public health physician whose work has focused on the prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases – causes of immense suffering and disability. After working in migrant health as a general medical practitioner, David studied public health at The Johns Hopkins University and worked as a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1985 to 2006. He co-founded the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Control and Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in the Americas. From 2006 to 2010, David directed the Fetzer Institute’s research program in science and spirituality. He is currently Director of Children Without Worms, a program of the Task Force for Global Health in Decatur, Georgia. His interests include prevention of neglected tropical diseases and the role of compassion in global health.