Medical Doctors and International Managers: Peter Piot’s Autobiography

A wonderful book to read: Peter Piot’s autobiography (No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses, New York: Norton, 2012). With a great sense of urgency and humour, the Belgian medical doctor Peter Piot writes about his fight against Ebola and AIDS. It is a story about concrete people, patients and doctors, as well as about international organisations and institutions that are required to struggle against planetwide epidemies. Peter Piot gives us an interesting insight both in the concrete experiences of a medical doctor when working with his or her patients and in the political and managerial swamps of international organisations. His descriptions never lose the very human touch, as when he describes some of the crucial management lessons he learned, e.g. when a Malian companion, Michel Sidibé, tells him about the ways of the chameleon.

It is a refreshing and encouraging biography for all who have to struggle amidst managerial and political storms, or with prejudices, while being driven by a sense of urgency at the service of fellow human beings. There are some lessons to be learned here – also for the Roman Catholic Church -, but we learn them from a person who knows the art of building up alliances and friendships.

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