This well-researched book takes you around the world describing diseases and giving solid data
Title: Blue Marble Health
Author: Peter J Hotez
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Reviewer: Jane Brown, quality governance manager specialised clinical services division, Worcester Acute NHS Trust
What was it like?
This is a well-researched book that takes you to different countries of the world, describing diseases and giving solid data. Its author, Peter Hotez, launched the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He describes diseases such as tuberculosis, hookworm, lymphatic filariasis and Chagas disease, to name but a few, that commonly occur in extreme poverty.
The book includes statistics as well as interesting background facts about the populations, economies and diseases found in each of the countries it explores, highlighting socioeconomic issues as well as the north-south divide. The author urges authorities to tackle public health needs and share solutions.
What were the highlights?
In poor areas of Texas, the author has uncovered diseases that you would only expect to find in developing countries. For the reader it is both surprising and shocking to learn that some of the world’s worst poverty-related diseases affect impoverished people living in rich countries like the US. There is nowhere to hide from the facts presented, which do stack up. The reader is left with a strong awareness that something needs to be done to improve a health situation that people in the UK would describe as Dickensian.
Of course the UK also has health and social care issues, including too many homeless people on the streets, but we do have an NHS that treats everybody and, at present, people do not have to pay high insurance costs to receive care. However, the book does make you wonder what consequences Brexit will have for healthcare. It is concerning that the NHS cannot cope with demand and is in a financial crisis. What the future holds for our care system we do not know, as each government seems to just try to paste over the cracks.
Strengths and weaknesses
There is a whole chapter listing literature cited, in which the author is cited on numerous occasions, highlighting just how much research he has carried out himself rather than just quoting other experts.
Who should read it?
This book is for all clinicians caring for people with poverty-related diseases. It should be on the essential reading list of student nurses, as it will raise awareness of some shocking facts and hopefully increase the chance of something being done to solve the problems highlighted.
blue marble health