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Dignity and Global Health

Dr. James Orbinski, former president of the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, will speak at the World Leaders Lecture Forum Tuesday, April 6, 2010, in the U of U's Libby Gardner Hall.

March 23, 2010-“What I’ve experienced is that I can’t know the future. I can’t know if anything that I do will change what happens tomorrow. I can’t know with certainty, but what I do know is if I do nothing, nothing will change,” writes Dr. James Orbinski, former president of the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Orbinski will speak at this year’s World Leaders Lecture Forum, sponsored by the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah. The lecture will take place Tuesday, April 6 at 11 a.m. in the Libby Gardner Hall at the University of Utah, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, and is free and open to the public.

His talk, titled “Dignity and Global Health,” will explore questions on the interrelated states of health and illness on a global scale. In a world of sharp economic disparities, what responsibilities do we have to the suffering? How do we insure that those ravaged by medical calamities live and die in dignity?

Orbinski has provided humanitarian aid, protection and medical assistance for thousands of people as Doctors Without Borders chief of mission during the genocide in Rwanda and the civil war in Zaire, and advocates for access to essential medicines, global health governance and humanitarian crisis management. He also accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for the organization in 1999.

Bob Goldberg, professor of history and director of the Tanner Humanities Center, describes Orbinski as “a leading humanitarian whose personal experience and insight get right to the heart of many medical crises affecting our world today.”

In addition to Orbinski’s lecture, a screening of the documentary Triage: Dr. James Orbinski’s Humanitarian Dilemma will be held on April 5 at 7 p.m. in the Salt Lake City Main Library auditorium, 210 E. 400 S. Triage follows Orbinski as he travels through Somalia, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, exploring how bonds of solidarity are forged and human spirits somehow remain unbroken, even during the worst humanitarian episodes.

To arrange a media interview with Orbinski, contact Josh Elstein at (801) 581-7989 or For more information, contact the Tanner Humanities Center at (801) 581-7989 or