I recently read the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, which describes the life of Paul Farmer, an infectious disease physician, and his organization, Partners in Health. Farmer’s mission was to help individuals living in vulnerable countries access quality health care and preventative services. Through Farmer’s magnificent story, it is evident that one man can change the lives of thousands, even millions, and thus Farmer is an example of a successful leader. But Farmer is just ONE leader. We all know Barack Obama’s powerful tagline: yes we can. Its implications are potent, yet we are still struggling to improve the social and economic disparities of health care. Those inequalities affect millions.
How does this connect to a blog on leadership? Simple: the most effective way for America to fully commit itself to health care equality is through strong and effective leadership. Health leadership is one of the main components of a successful health campaign. If we are trying to improve the inequities that affect personal health, health campaigns must start by addressing individual health behaviors and teaching people different ways to achieve healthy lifestyles. Clearly, adequate funding is essential for any type of reform, however information and education are extremely useful tools in preventing disease. And this is where we need effective and powerful leadership. What does it take to be an effective health leader?
Written by Jessica Levin, Research Assistant in Health and Epidemiology, Abt Associates, Cambridge, MA