Healthcare, A Human Right

Paul Farmer’s chapter Rethinking Health and Human Rights concludes his book concerning “health, human rights, and the new era war on the poor.” The passage explores human rights violations in relation to social and economic rights. In discussions of structural violence, Farmer enforces a “geographically broad and historically deep” approach to analysis and policy improvements. This theme is integrated into his work on global human rights violations and social inequality. Farmer describes his approach to the analysis of pathologies of power, “Anthropology – in common with sociological and historical perspectives in general – allows us to place in broader contexts both human rights abuses and the discourses (and other responses) they generate. Furthermore, these disciplines permit us to ground our understandings of human rights in broader analyses of power and social inequality.” (Farmer 219). Farmer uses his experiences in Russia, Haiti, and Chiapas to illustrate people’s suffering in his narrative of human rights violations. Epidemics of poverty and lack of access to resources compound issues of inequality and public health standards.


The World Health Organization has published material on the epidemic of tuberculosis in prisons Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease have in common an association with poor living standards. Both health issues are deeply tied to those afflicted with poverty and disadvantaged by systems of structural violence.


A Russian prison cell and inmates. Farmer describes his experience working in prisons and states, “tuberculosis has become the leading cause of death among Russian prisoners.” (Farmer 214).


One thought on “Healthcare, A Human Right

  1. Great post! I really think you made some great connections. I agree that this last reading really tied everything together and challenged us as informed citizens to do more than just educate ourselves and others: we must actually create this change by doing transforming the agenda of human rights.

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