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Book Read kicks off with health care discussion

Feb. 25, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University will launch its third annual Book Read with a public presentation Tuesday, March 9, featuring a representative from an international health aid organization.

This year's book selection is Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains," which focuses on the work of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard University professor, renowned infectious disease specialist, anthropologist and MacArthur "genius" grant recipient.

The Book Read kickoff will feature Donna Barry, advocacy and policy director for the nonprofit organization PIH--Partners in Health. Her presentation, titled "Partners in Health: Accompaniment in Action," begins at 11 a.m. in Room 4010 of the College of Health and Human Services Building with overflow viewing in Room 2089. Free and open to the public, her speech will be followed by a discussion and reception from noon to 1 p.m.

Barry is a nurse practitioner and holds a master's degree in public health. Previously, she led the PIH project to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Russia and was co-director of PIH's women's health programs in Haiti. She is now guiding PIH's advocacy and policy efforts related to health and hunger, socio-economic development in Haiti, increasing the pool of funding for global health and the health care worker shortage.

She has presented at multiple venues about PIH's model and has participated in briefings and hearings on Capitol Hill regarding reproductive health, debt relief in Haiti, childhood malnutrition, tuberculosis and funding for global health.

The college's Book Read is an inter-professional activity that encourages interactions among faculty, staff, students and members of the larger community. It offers a unique learning experience and an opportunity for all involved to gain a broader perspective on global and local health and related issues.

In "Mountains Beyond Mountains," Kidder chronicles the ways in which Farmer pursues his calling--to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most--from Harvard to Peru, Cuba, Russia and Haiti.

The book shows how change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable and how one person can impact global health problems by understanding the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems and disease. Much of the action Kidder covers takes place in Haiti, of particular relevance in the aftermath of the recent earthquake there.

Book Read events

This year's Book Read activities will continue through March and will include face-to-face and online discussions, a photo exhibit and other events.

For more information, visit the 2010 Book Read online.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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