How Developed Are We?

This is a controversial and troubling question for nations and citizens (especially if they are feeling insecure). But daily reality brings more important questions than this: the need to find food, shelter, and preserve or improve one’s health. “Development” in the abstract is a little distracting if it doesn’t speak directly to these essential concerns. Are developed societies those with healthy citizens and residents?

Development is often equated with technological capabilities and intimately tied to our idea of progress. This is because we equate technological ability with being better able to feed, clothe, shelter, and keep ourselves healthy. In “Market Menagerie: Health and Development in Late Industrial States”, which Stanford University Press published a little while ago, I took the question of technological advance and posed it in terms of whether those more technologically sophisticated countries were better able to provide healthcare to their citizens. (More on this theme soon).

On Feb 4th 2013, TCLab has organized a distinguished panel (see the full details at, of journalists, emergency and aid advocacy leaders, academics and practitioners in urban design and planning, and photojournalists. Our goal? To understand the question of health and development by discussing the complexities of narrative in health. We aim to bring together different professional communities and the public in dealing with essential life and death questions. I urge you all to attend in person or view this in live-streaming video at the website.

We all need health care in some form, and we came into the world dependent on basic or more sophisticated health systems. Under what conditions can technologies in healthcare help us? How do we ensure that all people have access to essential medicines, vaccines, and surgeries? Why are the costs of basic health care so high? How can we best narrate the complexities of access to healthcare, and suggest more direct paths to it?

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