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MacDonald, Theodore H. 1933-

MacDonald, Theodore H. 1933-

PERSONAL:

Born November 25, 1933, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Education: Columbia University, M.A.; University of Delaware, Ph.D.; University of Glasgow, Ph.D.; Universidad Mundial, M.D.

CAREER:

University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, England, external examiner at the postgraduate department of medicine; Research Institute for Human Rights and Social Justice, London Metropolitan University, London, England, professor emeritus. Has worked as a consultant for numerous organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and various nongovernmental organizations.

WRITINGS:

Making a New People: Education in Revolutionary Cuba, New Star Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1985.

Rethinking Health Promotion: A Global Approach, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.

A Developmental Analysis of Cuba's Health Care System since 1959, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 1999.

Third World Health Promotion and Its Dependence on First World Wealth, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2001.

(Editor) The Social Significance of Health Promotion, Routledge (London, England and New York, NY), 2003.

Third World Health: Hostage to First World Wealth, Radcliffe Publishing (Oxford, England), 2005.

The Global Human Right to Health: Dream or Possibility?, Radcliffe Publishing (Oxford, England), 2007.

Also author of more than thirty textbooks, including Basic Concepts in Statistics and Epidemiology, and about 200 peer-reviewed research journal articles.

SIDELIGHTS:

A respected authority on the subject of public health, especially in developing countries, Theodore H. MacDonald has written more than thirty textbooks as well as hundreds of scholarly articles. In such books as Rethinking Health Promotion: A Global Approach, Third World Health Promotion and Its Dependence on First World Wealth, and A Developmental Analysis of Cuba's Health Care System since 1959, he analyses the relationships between health, economics, and government, making it clear that individual physical health often depends on many things that are outside an individual's control and that should properly be the responsibility of governments to provide—such as access to clean water, sanitation, and basic education.

Health, as MacDonald explains in Rethinking Health Promotion, is not merely the absence of illness. Health promotion, therefore, should focus on those actions and policies that contribute to well-being, and should not be dismissed as an insignificant adjunct to direct medical care. Health advocacy, he writes, has always been a separate and important endeavor, and should continue to be supported as such.

MacDonald often emphasizes the importance of community in creating successful mechanisms for delivering care and maintaining the health of its members. As editor of The Social Significance of Health Promotion, a work intended for students and practitioners, he presents data and analysis from a wide range of models that demonstrate the positive effects of community health advocacy. Included are chapters on the historical roots of health promotion; developmental and ecological approaches to children's mental health; social inclusion and inequalities in health care; health care systems in Zimbabwe, England, Ukraine, and Scotland; workplace health promotion; health promotion and alternative medicine; and participatory evaluation of lay and practitioner knowledge.

In the well-received Third World Health: Hostage to First World Wealth, MacDonald argues that global economic factors have played a significant role in undermining the health of populations in poor regions. First World countries, with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, control vast amounts of capital and have impoverished Third World countries because of crippling debt-repayment structures. As a result, debtor countries are forced to cut funding for local food production, education, and other basic services that affect health.

MacDonald, who worked for many years as a medical doctor in Cuba, uses that country as a model for a society that provides high-quality medical care to all its members. Despite low incomes and scarce resources, Cuba gives free health care to everyone and enjoys health outcomes that compare favorably to those in much wealthier countries. Its infant mortality rate, for example, is six per 1,000 live births—slightly better than the US rate of eight per 1000 live births. Similarly, Cubans enjoy an average life span comparable to that in the United States. "No other political revolution in history," he writes, "seems to have been quite so successful in encompassing local empowerment and personal autonomy and using them in implementing social policy." Contrasting Cuba's success with the Soviet Union's more problematic health care system, MacDonald concludes that Cubans' habit of innovation has enabled them to create and sustain structures and relationships that maximize the benefit of medical resources.

Third World Health concludes with MacDonald's call for a merging of "red" and "green" political approaches to global health into one equitable and sustainable international economic and social system. While this argument is attractive and idealistic, wrote Jennifer Power in Arena Magazine, MacDonald is a "little vague" about specifics. He criticizes green-consumer approaches, but is also skeptical of the anti-globalization faction, suggesting that global finance can, under the right circumstances, contribute to long-term solutions. In the meantime, he argues, an international body that is not affiliated with capital interests is needed to oversee the problem. This argument, for Powers, "amounts to an unsatisfying and rather idealistic ‘solution.’" Had MacDonald drawn more definite conclusions about recent actions that have inspired major improvements in health policy, wrote Powers, the book would be even stronger and more persuasive. In Nursing Standard, Roswyn Hakesley-Brown praised Third World Health as an "invaluable" study for anyone concerned about global health care issues.

MacDonald covers similar material in The Global Human Right to Health: Dream or Possibility? Reminding readers that the United Nations Charter and Declaration of Human Rights have both identified health as a basic human right, MacDonald explains that the United Nations has recently become divided on the issue because of the negative influence of its fellow UN agencies: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The stance of these latter agencies—which endorse a neoliberal faith in profit—is at odds with the ideal of equitable health care for all. As in Third World Health, MacDonald explains how economic factors contribute to disparities in health care systems; he also examines how skewed distribution of wealth adversely affects the environment, HIV, and AIDS. Mike Jackson, reviewing The Global Human Right to Health in Nursing Standard, deemed it an "impressive and thought-provoking" work.

Among Macdonald's numerous other publications is the paper "Transnational Mechanisms for the Globalization and Mediation of Human Rights." He is a frequent lecturer and consultant to organizations including the World Health Organization and UNESCO.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

MacDonald, Theodore H., Third World Health: Hostage to First World Wealth, Radcliffe Publishing (Oxford, England), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Arena Magazine, October 1, 2006, Jennifer Power, review of Third World Health, p. 50.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 2006, R.L. Jones, review of Third World Health, p. 1256.

International Social Work, July, 2005, Varsha Nighoskar, review of The Social Significance of Health Promotion, p. 511.

Medical Journal of Australia, June 5, 2006, David Wilkinson, review of Third World Health.

New England Journal of Medicine, April 27, 2006, Ralph Crawshaw, review of Third World Health, p. 1861.

Nursing Standard, October 5, 2005, Roswyn Hakesley-Brown, review of Third World Health, p. 36; August 22, 2007, Mike Jackson, review of The Global Human Right to Health: Dream or Possibility?, p. 30.

SciTech Book News, September, 2001, review of Third World Health Promotion and Its Dependence on First World Wealth, p. 86; December, 2005, review of Third World Health; September, 2007, review of Basic Concepts in Statistics and Epidemiology; September, 2007, review of The Global Human Right to Health.

ONLINE

Sources of Insecurity Web site,http://www.sourcesofinsecurity.org/ (March 17, 2008), abstract of "Transnational Mechanisms for the Globalization and Mediation of Human Rights," and profile of Theodore H. MacDonald.

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