Kouchner, a cofounder of the humanitarian doctors group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), offered “resistance to oppression” as a definition of health and noted that efforts to expand humanitarian aid that crosses national borders, “that limits only the spread of solidarity rather than germs,” have been met with opposition. “We were called the hippies of medicine and doctors without diplomas,” he said. “That has stopped since we won the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Solutions such as partnering hospitals in the developed world with hospitals in the developing world are an important way to continue collaborations that can make a difference, he said, but the real problem is bigger than that.
“Public health is not a neutral activity; it is a political activity, the good sense of the world. Global health is a political problem, and nothing is more revealing of gender and racial inequality,” he said. Other speakers agreed.