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Speaker delivers diagnosis on U.S. healthcare

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

One of the world's experts on delivering health care says we could learn a lot from what is being done in poor countries to deliver better health care in the United States. Delivering the Fitzpatrick lecture at Canisius College last night, Dr. Paul Farmer said health care has to be better planned and needs more community health workers who can go out to members of the public directly.

Farmer, a Harvard Medical School professor, has worked in much of the world on health care issues, especially in Haiti.

He says change can take place and improve health care. Farmer cites Rwanda, where a decade ago the government wanted improvements in AIDS care.

"Nobody was getting care, a tiny handful of people getting care for AIDS. Now, that has pretty much hit universal access. To me, you say, well, how can Rwanda do that? But, with all the money that we put into chronic  disease, we can't do it here. The answer largely lies in the way systems are designed and how care is delivered," Farmer said.

Farmer says health planners have to investigate whether Americans are getting value for the vast amounts of money spent on medical care.

He suggests the value isn't there when the top end of U.S. health care may be the best in the world but the average level of care is well down the world rankings.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.