Addiss, DG. Mindfulness, compassion, and the foundations of global health ethics. In: Monteiro LM, Compson J, Musten RF, eds., Practitioner’s guide to ethics and mindfulness-based interventions. New York, NY: Springer 2017; 295-322.
Mindfulness is generally considered a characteristic or quality of individual persons. Its focus is primarily inward, directed toward one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, as well as toward one’s immediate environment. Yet the accelerating pace of globalization compels us to consider mindfulness in a broader context. Using global health as an example, I explore the essential role of mindfulness in fostering ethical decision-making and in nurturing compassionate, effective action at the global level. I also explore how mindfulness and compassion might contribute to the emerging field of global health ethics.
Addiss DG. At heart, global health draws on compassion, solidarity and justice. Health Progress 2018; July-August: 47-52.
The immensity of human suffering throughout history is unfathomable. For most of our history, our awareness of suffering was limited to those in our own community. But we now live in an age of globalization, bombarded by 24-hour news and images of suffering from around the world. Suffering that used to be hidden now is revealed. With that awareness comes a desire and a responsibility to respond. The field of global health represents one such response. Global health emerged during the past three decades, fueled by a recognition that, as humans, our health is deeply interconnected.
Addiss, DG. Spiritual themes and challenges in global health. J Med Humanit 2018; 39:337–348. doi 10.1007/s10912-015-9378-9.
Although the importance of spirituality is increasingly recognized in clinical medicine, spirituality is rarely mentioned in the practice, literature, or training programs of global health. To understand the role of spirituality in global health practice and identify factors that influence and limit its expression, I initiated conversations and informal interviews with more than 300 global health leaders, students, and practitioners during 2010-2014. Four spiritual themes or challenges emerged: compassion at a distance; dichotomous thinking; conspiracy of silence; and compulsion to save the world. Practitioners expressed strong interest in bringing spirituality more fully into global health discourse, which could help the field realize its potential.
Addiss, DG. Compassion in an age of globalization: Who is my neighbor? Health Progress 2016; September-October: 19-22.
Globalization can be deeply unsettling. Recent news headlines in the United States and the United Kingdom point to a pervasive and widespread sense of “globalization fatigue.” The forces of cultural and economic globalization can threaten cherished identities, undermine long-held beliefs and endanger traditional ways of life. Globalization stretches us, makes us uncomfortable and moves — or dissolves — our boundaries. It also raises key questions about our capacity for compassion and to whom it should be extended.
Addiss DG. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. In Rotbart H, ed. Miracles we have seen: America’s leading physicians share stories they can’t forget. Deerfield Beach, Florida: HCI Books 2016; 190-197. (book on Amazon) (chapter as .pdf)
On a granite wall in the lobby of the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, an aspirational vision is inscribed in several languages: “The attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” Within this building, and in medical centers, public health agencies, and clinics around the world, an estimated 59 million people in the global health workforce labor to improve the health of all people – including some of the most marginalized and neglected populations on earth. The people who benefit from their dedicated efforts may never know – or even be aware of – the millions of global health workers who serve on their behalf. Yet, over the course of time, the results of those efforts are nothing short of miraculous….
Addiss, DG. Globalization of compassion: The example of global health. In: Gill S and Cadman D, eds. Why love matters: Values in governance. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing 2016; 107-119. (book on Amazon) (chapter as .pdf)
…At its best, global health is a compassionate, coordinated response to human suffering on a global scale. Its core values mirror those of the great religious and spiritual traditions: interconnection, compassion, justice, and interdependence. Global health is eminently practical and universal in scope, but lives and breathes in a complex political and social environment. Its vision and purpose can be thwarted and distorted by the forces of fear, conflict, extremism, and insecurity. These forces cause us to draw our circle of family too narrowly. The need to extend compassion beyond our usual circles has never been greater. Fields such as global health, dedicated to improving the wellbeing of all, represent a vanguard in the human journey toward the globalization of compassion. Rediscovery of compassion and other spiritual values at the core of global health could provide a renewed sense of meaning for those who work in this field and empower them to connect more deeply with those they seek to serve. It could also animate and solidify the field itself, serving to drive effective global health policy and hastening human flourishing.
Addiss, DG. Spiritual themes and challenges in global health. J Med Human 2015; 30 December; doi: 10.1007/s10912-015-9378-9. (open access)
Although the importance of spirituality is increasingly recognized in clinical medicine, spirituality is rarely mentioned in the practice, literature, or training programs of global health. To understand the role of spirituality in global health practice and identify factors that influence and limit its expression, I initiated conversations and informal interviews with more than 300 global health leaders, students, and practitioners during 2010-2014. Four spiritual themes or challenges emerged: compassion at a distance; dichotomous thinking; conspiracy of silence; and compulsion to save the world. Practitioners expressed strong interest in bringing spirituality more fully into global health discourse, which could help the field realize its potential…
Salzberg S, Ferrari P, Addiss DG, Agler E, Walker JC. In the spirit of service. Tricycle, April 8, 2015.
A special challenge for global health professionals is to make sure we do not lose sight of the individual human faces behind the health statistics that so inform our work. Attending to both the faces and the numbers—the individual and the collective—is necessary. Without being fully present to the people who suffer, our compassion can wither; without access to accurate data, our global health programs can become ineffective. How do we hold them both?
Addiss DG. Global elimination of lymphatic filariasis: A “mass uprising of compassion.” PloS Negl Trop Dis 2013; 7(8): e2264. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002264. (open access)
Hospitals and medical centers often cite compassion as a core value in their mission statements. In contrast, the importance of compassion in global health is rarely acknowledged, even though it is a significant source of motivation and sustenance for those working in the field. The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) provides an illustrative example of the role and promise of compassion in global health. It was established in 1998 to alleviate and prevent immense human suffering caused by the neglected tropical disease (NTD) lymphatic filariasis (LF)….
Addiss DG, Hliboki J. Study guide: Compassion in global health.