Fire in the Blood, a documentary by Dylan Mohan Gray, investigates on the injustice of AIDS treatment in Africa, millions of who die every year just because they cannot afford the antiretroviral drug that could have saved their lives. The documentary portrays how western pharmaceutical companies along with the US and European governments keep low-cost drugs away from the reach of poor HIV AIDS affected citizens of Africa and let them suffer. Filming emotion-charged pictures of victims to activists, advocates and scientists, Gray pulls out some troublesome facts. Intense haunting responses from interviewees like, “The only reason we are dying is because we are poor” weakens the audience and provokes them to discuss about the inequality in health care.
The movie illustrates the inequality Farmer talks about in his article. The outcome of disease of the mass population infected by HIV AIDS, which clearly had no control over it, was death because the social and economic factors weren’t contributing to the outcome; again clearly emphasizing that providing biomedical solutions to health problems alone cannot sustain a positive outcome. What is the point of medical innovations if people cannot *use* it. What is the point of medical innovations if people aren’t allowed to use it? The movie also shows a power structure that oppresses the powerless, to an extent that the ultimate result is death itself. Even though the research into life saving drugs is mostly publicly funded, the distribution of drugs is controlled by giant corporations who use their government granted monopoly to price their drugs, resulting in affordability by only the privileged nations.
This is an example of structural violence. With whom does the power stay? The movie also raises few ethical questions. Why isn’t the government demanding anything from the patent holders? Should pharmaceutical companies have moral obligations to save lives? Does the patent holder regime need to be reformed? Etc. The movie, even though one-sided, well delivers the message that patent laws reinforce inequality and as long as inequalities persist, the poor will continue to suffer. Factors that can be controlled at an individual level must be done so but factors that are out of reach must be taken care by the government. Unless the external factor which cannot be controlled by the victim is controlled by the government, individual efforts are of no good. Health policies and programs, fund allocation must all happen with reference to biomedical and social factors of health.
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