Mad as Hell Doctors

I have no horse in this race, but these doctors from the US inspire me greatly:

Mad As Hell Doctors

Mad As Hell Doctors

This request letter was sent to President Obama’s office on 8.21.09

Dear Mr. President:

This September, as the healthcare debate rages in Congress, our core group of six doctors from Oregon will be embarking on an historic road trip across America. We will be conducting town halls in twenty-six cities as we make our way to Washington, D.C. Our mission is to educate our fellow citizens as to why a single payer health care system is the only means to lasting, substantive health care reform for this country.

All told, our group has 191 years of combined, real-world medical experience, much of it spent working in a system that serves neither patients nor their doctors. As physicians who have sworn an oath to behave in accord with the highest possible ethical, medical standards, we have all reached the same conclusion: it is our professional obligation to speak out against a for-profit system of health care that is fatally compromising the health and well being of our patients, their families and our nation.

We will be in Washington D.C. on the morning of Oct. 1 and it would be a distinct honor if you would meet with our modest delegation to discuss the future of health care as well as the moral, social and fiscal imperative of a enacting a single-payer system for America at this moment in our history.

Dr. Paul Hochfeld Emergency Room Physician -Corvallis, OR
Dr. Eugene Uphoff FamilyPhysician-Portland, Oregon
Dr. Samuel Metz Anesthesiologist-Portland,Oregon
Dr. Michael Huntington RadiationOncologist-Corvallis,Oregon
Dr. Joseph Eusterman Internal Medicine-Portland, Oregon – Retired
Dr. Robert Seward InternalMedicine-Portland, Oregon

These doctors are organising a cross-country “tour” through the US to speak out, share information, and gather support(ers) — they do not see it as a campaign, but as a “movement”.

Kiva – Microfinance

Kiva is one of my favourite organisations.  Kieran Ball created this video to explain what happens to a Lender’s $25 loan from start, to disbursement, to repayment.

PBS has also done a news spot about Kiva which is well worth watching:

Here’s some press about Kiva!

Dr. James Orbinski

Dr. Orbinski

I am currently reading James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century” and am having trouble putting it down. Orbinski is one of the founders of the Canadian branch of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF); in 1994 he served as Chef de Mission for MSF in Kigali, Rwanda during the horrific civil war and genocide.   As president of MSF, the doctor and humanitarian accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on their behalf in 1999; his remarkable Nobel Lecture is available here.

One can do a search at iTunes for “James Orbinski” and listen to Dr. Orbinski “In Conversation with Alan Gregg” about “An Imperfect Offering”  — there is a choice of audio or video.

CBC’s “Sunday” interviewed Dr. Orbinski about his new book; watch it here. (sorry, CBC has removed this wonderful interview, and the “Sunday” site)

This link will take you to a radio interview with James Orbinski on CBC’s “Sounds Like Canada”. (apologies: sadly , it seems that CBC has removed the “Sounds Like Canada” web page and its interviews, as well as the podcasts available at iTunes).

CBC’s documentary, “Evil Revisited”, was awarded the 2005 Canadian Radio Television News Directors Association Award. Dr. Orbinski returns to Rwanda with CBC journalist Sasa Petricic in this incredibly moving piece.  (note:  CBC has also removed this excellent documentary about one of Canada’s most remarkable citizens; thank you to the kind commenter — Mr. Petricic? —  who provided the Vimeo link for “Evil Revisited”!)

George Stroumboulopoulos interviewed Dr. Orbinski on CBC’s “The Hour”; watch it here. (believe it or not, CBC has removed this as well!)

Dr Orbinski is one of the founders of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a not-for-profit pharmaceutical research and development entity focused on the diseases of the South. He recently co-founded Dignitas, an organization focused on community based treatment, care and prevention of HIV in the developing world.


“An Imperfect Offering”, and this man speak to me on a very deep level. Each of us is responsible for each other, and each of us needs to act. As Vikram Seth so eloquently puts it in his book, “Two Lives: a Memoir”:

“May we see that we could have been born as each other.”

Update: CTV’s “W5” aired “To Hell and Back: helping the world’s most desperate/Charity’s Not Enough”, on Saturday, April 3, 2010.  This interview with Dr. Orbinski, as well as a written article is available at the W5 web site.  Dr. Orbinski talks about his experiences, and drives home the idea that charity must only be a starting point — that it is not a substitute for public policy in making necessary change in our world.

Update: October 2010, CTV’s Canada AM has a feature clip/interview with Dr. Orbinski in its “Transformational Canadians” series, produced in conjunction with the Globe and Mail and La Presse.


My kids and Nickelback…

(the video has been removed from Youtube…sorry!)

I like that they can hear a song, enjoy it, yet at the same time think about important social activists — regular people — and be gently reminded to think about what they can do to make the world better.

The video ends with one of our favourite quotations:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

Dr.Chandrasekhar Sankurathri: Beauty out of tragedy and loss

Dr. Chandrasekhar Sankurathri, otherwise known as “Dr. Chandra”

Dr. Chandrasekhar Sankurathri, otherwise known as “Dr. Chandra”, lost his wife and two children in the tragic bombing of Air India Flight 182 from Canada to London in 1985. After three years of working through unbearable grief while employed as a government scientist in Ottawa, Dr. Chandra decided that he needed to “do something useful.”

Inspired by his late wife’s concern for the poor in her native India, Dr. Chandra opened the Sarada School — named for his daughter — in wife’s home state of Andhra Pradesh.

After school is over for the day, the school bus is busily picking up blind and nearly-blind patients awaiting free cataract surgery at the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology, named for Dr. Chandra’s son. India has about a quarter of the world’s blind! Staff of the hospital is local, and receives a small salary and room and board. Five opthamologists are paid $1,500 per month; each surgeon performs approximately 150 surgeries per day.

Read about this unstoppable man and his work here and here.