Pharmacists Day and Haitian Drug Vendors

Today's story is somewhat brief, as I am presently busy caring for our fellow traveler—the one who appears at the end of each post. He was listening to commemorative messages for Martin Luther King Day delivered by Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson when he took suddenly ill. He turned red, then green, and threw up. I'm not feeling too well myself.  

I happen to be an old white guy with an MD degree, not a demographic group that one associates with class resentment. But here is a story that helped me understand the concept of discrimination. My paternal heritage is pure Welsh. When I was a young man I visited Wales, proud of my quintessential Welsh surname. I struck up a conversation in a village pub with an Englishman, who, on learning my name, felt it was his duty to tell me how the native Welsh were all ‘lazy and on the dole’. To him Wales was a shit hole. To me it was the land of my heritage. I am still angry about it. Imagine how I might feel if I were black or brown.

That said, let me try to relate that to some medical history. Today is Pharmacist Day and the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Indispensable Professionals

So, today is National Pharmacist Day. The Pharmacy Times promotes the celebration as follows:

Pharmacists make a difference every day in the pharmacy and in their personal lives. On National Pharmacist day, we encourage you, your co-workers, family members, and friends to share photos of you doing an activity of you enjoy or tell us how you are celebrating the day. Be sure to use #APharmacistIs and tag Specialty Pharmacy Times® and Pharmacy Times® on social media.

“Happy National Pharmacist Day! We don’t always make the medications, but we make them better.  #onepharmacycommunity.”

 Pharmacy Times Poster

Pharmacy Times Poster

As to the history of pharmacy, I refer you to an infographic taking us from Sumeria in 2000BC, the emergence of drug stores in Europe in the 1200s, to the modern day where 70% of Americans use one or more of 44.6 million prescriptions.

You may also find interesting a pictorial history of pharmacy on the Hanneman archives. And for the earnest reader, slog through a thorough history of pharmacy on Wikipedia. Don’t miss the bit about Dioscorides and Materia Medica. 

 Ernest Fourneau, Pasteur Institute

Ernest Fourneau, Pasteur Institute

Haitian Street Vendors

The National Geographic has a good read on Where Street Vendors Run Pharmacies Out of Buckets

“The portable pharmacies may look like contemporary art installations or candy store displays, but they can be as dangerous as Russian roulette. The government’s lack of oversight allows untrained merchants like Bonord to obtain and sell pharmaceutical products: generic medicines from China, expired pills, counterfeit drugs imported from the Dominican Republic.

The activity is technically illegal, but the laws are rarely enforced by the Ministry of Public Health and Population.”

 Haitian Street Vendor with Pills

Haitian Street Vendor with Pills

Now, given that, one wonders how an American city would manage drug delivery after a natural disaster. Eight years ago today an earthquake killed 160,000 people in Haiti. If every living soul in my nearby city of Hartford Connecticut had been wiped out eight years ago, we might well be getting our pills from street vendors—especially so if Hartford had been decreed by the President to be a shit hole, (what with all the brown people living there).

Presciently, a reviewer of a 1930 volume on the History of Haitian Medicine comments:

“The final chapter on Haitian physicians is somewhat pessimistic, because the author, although pointing out their fine qualities and their high skill and ability, does not believe that they possess the administrative ability necessary to continue a successful national public health program after the withdrawal of American supervision.”

You're in Right Place

Should Americans be our brother’s keeper? Or are we too busy becoming Nationalists? Speaking of which, it was Hitler who said (yes, I know about Godwin’s Law), Machen Deutschland wieder großMake Germany Great Again.”

"If you're outraged by those words, then you're in the right place."

Air Force Lt. General's speech on racial slurs goes viral.

You can find the the book On Tyranny and books on the history of medicine via our Amazon affiliate links.

As always feel free to leave a comment, contact us at info@medicalhistorytour.com.

Banner image from Global Press Journal

 Rectal suppository. You know where it goes.

Rectal suppository. You know where it goes.