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The Fears of the rich, The Needs of the Poor: My Years at the CDC

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’I would recommend the book to anyone interested in, or who works within, the field of public health’

Title: The Fears of the rich, The Needs of the Poor: My Years at the CDC

Author: William H Foege

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Reviewer: Andrew Southgate; Canterbury Christ Church University

What was it like?

This is a fascinating and absorbing account of the author’s time working with the US Centre for Disease Control. He explores the complexities and nuances of relationships between a wide range of agencies in the US and across the world and the challenges encountered working towards enhancing Global Public Health. The book takes the reader on a journey that encompasses a range of global public issues such as AIDS, Legionnaires Disease, Toxic Shock Syndrome, Disaster Relief and the battles associated with securing funding for projects. However, the book reinforces that 21st Century Global Public Health is more than managing and eradicating communicable diseases. There is a focus on the real health issues of famine, the impact of global warming and mental illness on the health of the global population. It is interspersed with absorbing information that highlight the commitment that people such as president Carter, Bill and Melinda Gates had to improve public health for disadvantaged members of society. It also demonstrates how societal and traditional “blind spots”, related to religious values, cultural understanding and outdated beliefs can impede behaviour change; which it is argued is essential when promoting Global Public Health. The topic of immigration is explored in the book. However, as Europe and now the US are struggling to manage the flow refugees and economic migrants, perhaps this could be useful addition to a future addition

What were the highlights?

The highlight of the book is the way in which it is written. It can be read and viewed as a whole; or alternatively, the reader could select chapters that are of interest and take a “dip in, dip out” approach. The chapters are not long, and are written in a way that is engaging and informative.

Strengths & weaknesses:

There are no tables and only a few black and white images. However the conversational style of writing made this a joy to read. It is focused on real life examples and interspersed with human anecdotes, such as where the author was and what he was doing when president Kennedy was assassinated.

Who should read it?

I would recommend the book to anyone interested in, or who works within, the field of public health. It is an excellent book that can be included on reading lists for public/global health modules In addition, as the book refers to some of the ground breaking developments in relation to it, those interested in history may also find it appealing.

the fears of the rich

the fears of the rich





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