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I read ”The No-Nonsense Guide to World Health”

The No-nonsense Guide to World Health (2007)

Author: Dr. Shereen Usdin

Genre: non-fiction

Grading: 3/5


So, I am back to writing in English. I guess I am going to flick back to it when I write in this genre (global health). Now I am reviewing Dr. Shereen Usdin’s non-fictional The No-Nonsense Guide to World Health is a great introduction to understanding the basics behind what we otherwise probably would call ‘global health’. It is not, as I perhaps expected, a listing of the most common diseases, how to treat them, and what is being done today (or in 2004, when it was published). However, it was much deeper and dealth with politics, economy, and sociology on a global and general scale.

It is one of many No-Nonsense Guides published by The New Internationalist (there are many more like this one, but dealing with e.g. water, global development, the environment, global poverty, etc.), and although it is a somewhat old book by today (just ask Bill or Melinda Gates, Hans Rosling or Jeffrey Sachs) and the 12th year of the second millenium, I highly recommend it to people that are interested in issues of global development, poverty or medicine. To those of you who follow this blog, you already know that I want to become a doctor in the future, so it fit me quite well. Dr. Usdin discusses mainly the consequences of macro-economics, primarily those of neoliberal intrusions into sub-saharan African and Asian societies. She is very critical of big business’ exploitation of state weaknesses in the, as The New Internationalist writes, ‘majority world’. She is also indicting corrupt governments for their failures toward their people.

The book is well-written and has a decent structure which is easy to follow, it also bears a certain chronology although it to some extent does not really outline certain details to the medical novice. Perhaps, this is a deliberate element because it is a 150-page populist introductory book, and hence it serves its purpose very well. For the one that seriously reads this book to learn the details, I would suggest that you look up all the terms, acts, laws and what-not in order to gain 110% out of what it offers.

To me, it was the perfect introduction to the area of global health, because I have no expertise knowledge and can probably not even count myself being a novice here, although I try to keep myself updated about the major issues and most current questions. It is a very wide field that is affected by a long series of factors, from corporational boardrooms to the United Nations’ different councils and organs. Dr. Usdin succeeds in painting the larger picture, at least giving a general outline of the painting. She does deliver data, statistics, diagrams, and numbers in their loads, but as with all questions this big it is indeed difficult to give the whole perspective in 150 pages. I read this in order to set my personal framework opinions, not to learn the details – however, I did underline important ideas, numbers, and theories. Hence, I have set up the book for a second read, where I some time in the future will come back to it and read it, this time more seriously and in order to fill the frame.

I hope you have understood why I gave it a 3 out of 5. I gave it such a high grade because of my expectations and the aims of such as short book – it is aimed at giving a general view, which it does, with great details. However, it inherently, in being a mere ‘no-nonsense guide‘, cannot account for all its big theories, and hence a grade higher than 4 would not be justified. It is a bit old though, hence the lower score – if it would have been updated and consist of the same elements albeit modernised, then I might have given the 4.

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