Booster Shots

Oddities, musings and news from the health world

« Previous Post | Booster Shots Home | Next Post »

Seriously, health policy can be interesting, even to non-wonks. Really.

July 16, 2009 |  7:30 am

All it takes is a moving narrative. The journal Health Affairs knows this; soon you can too.

Familiar to -- and much admired by -- policy devotees across the nation, the journal is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its feature Narrative Matters. What that means is: Even non-regular readers can brush up on very important, crucial, even, health policy issues without being bored. Or feeling guilty for being bored.

Here's an explainer of the significance of that anniversary, plus a taste from the July-August issue:

Alexander McCall Smith, creator of the "No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" series, writes about the AIDS epidemic in Botswana. He begins "In the Midst of Sickness" with:

"He is standing before me, this man whom I barely know, the employee of somebody I have met. It is a cold day — cold, at least, by the standards of Botswana, although the sky is clear and the air is bathed in sunlight."

Julia Alvarez, author of "How the García Girls Lost Their Accents" and "In the Time of the Butterflies,"  begins "On The Southern Front" with:

"After forty-two years in this country, my parents announced that they were returning to their native country to live. Of course, we, their four daughters, understood the verb 'to live' as a euphemism. My parents were going back to the Dominican Republic because that’s where they wanted to die. But my sisters and I were all too upset to be thinking of that eventual future."

Then there's Abraham Verghese, an author -- plus physician and professor at Stanford University -- who writes in "A Touch of Sense" about the physical art of doctoring, based on the sense of touch and what's been lost in this country.

And Fitzhugh Mullan, the original editor of the feature, writes with reflection and perspective in "Still Closing the Gap" on the persistent inequalities in healthcare.

And there are other essays, as well, from previous editions -- no less moving, no less relevant. (Among them, Jane Pauley writes of her bipolar disorder.)

-- Tami Dennis