Bending the Arc: Health Workers Advocating for Justice

Daisy WinnerBlog, Medicine, Midwifery, Nursing

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

― Theodore Parker

As you watch Bending the Arc, a powerful film focused on the movement for more health workers and improved global health, it is clear that this quote is ingrained in the minds and hearts of the film’s subjects three inspiring health heroes.

The documentary follows the story of Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, and Jim Yong Kim – the founders of the Partners in Health (PIH) – from 1983 when Paul, Ophelia, and Jim were young, passionate physicians, to their present-day roles in leading advocacy for investments in health workers and a healthier planet.

Volunteering in rural Haiti, the three were appalled by the lack of basic care available. But the team did what they could to bring care to communities and treat patients. Across three decades, they broadened their impact, building clinics, fighting for policy change and expanding to new countries. Today, PIH works in ten countries around the world and has over 17,000 employees delivering care, 98 percent of whom are local to their communities.

While the film may follow the narrative of these three leaders, it underlines the role health care providers play as agents of change. From Harvard trained physicians to local community health workers, the film showed how essential all health workers are to making high quality care available to all.

Yet by 2030, the world will face a shortage of up to 18 million health care professionals. Health workers are central to delivering essential care to patients and strengthening the resilience of health systems to overcome challenges. Still 400 million people lack access to the care provided by health care professionals. To improve communities’ access to providers, ensuring health workers have the training and education is essential. By empowering local physicians, nurses, and midwives, we can ensure that the most vulnerable people have increased access quality health care services.

Starting from the ground up, PIH worked to empower community health workers to improve health outcomes and the well-being of their fellow community members. Collectively, these providers fought for policy change to improve global health care financing, increase access to medicine, and advocate for marginalized populations.

Just like PIH, Seed is committed to empowering the next generation of health care professional by working through a variety of partnerships to strengthen in-country medical and nursing education. By supporting a stable supply of doctors, nurses, and midwives in countries with significant need we can improve healthcare delivery so that more men, women, and children will live healthier lives.

The film underlines how health workers are not only providers of care but catalysts for change. Starting with Paul, Ophelia, and Jim and growing into a global movement, the film show us how health workers are fighting for justice and bending the arc.

People all over the world are bending the arc toward justice and helping to empower health workers. If you’re interested in seeing Bending the Arc, hosting a screening for your community, or becoming part of the global movement towards health equity, you can learn more here.