Health & Human Rights
What is at Stake
From their earliest beginnings, Adventists have been known for their dedication to healthy lifestyle practices and to a public “ministry of healing.” Adventists today enjoy among the highest longevity rates in the world and operate one of the world’s largest and most advanced hospital and medical care systems. The Adventist passion for healthful living and the healing arts is rooted in a desire to follow Christ’s example as well as in a holistic understanding of personhood that emphasizes the close connections between spiritual, mental, and bodily well-being.
A truly holistic ministry of healing, however, cannot ignore glaring social, economic, and political facts. We do not live in isolation but in community with others. Our health is inseparably linked to the health of our communities—and healthy communities must be communities of social justice. Diseases are often the result of structural or institutional realities that result in entrenched poverty, violence, human rights abuses, and unequal access to life-saving care. Sickness is a consequence not simply of viruses or pathogens but of what physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer calls “pathologies of power.”
When pharmaceutical companies deny affordable medicine to the poor in order to maximize their profits, when politicians deny insurance to the most vulnerable in order to protect the interests of private corporations, and when public health officials settle for managing illness rather than challenging social and economic injustices that cause illness, the ministry of healing is betrayed. We cannot speak intelligibly about global health without also speaking of human rights.
The APF calls for a new generation of Adventist medical professionals who will dedicate their lives not simply to providing care for the poor but also to forging alliances and engaging in public policy work to confront the nexus of healthcare and human rights. We encourage individuals in our network to consider supporting the following campaigns, actions, and organizations that are engaged in work at this new frontier of medical missions: