Photograph by David Ryder / Reuters

These past weeks have been incredibly difficult for everyone as we’ve watched the novel coronavirus trace a deadly path across the globe. What inspiration there is to be had comes from the heroic efforts of the medical personnel and other health workers in every nation, men and women who have worked tirelessly to help those who are suffering. This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about medical professionals around the world. In “The Shadow Doctors,” Ben Taub writes about the courageous medical personnel who formed an elaborate network of underground hospitals to treat war victims in Syria. In “Ophelia Dahl’s National Health Service,” Ariel Levy examines the work of Partners in Health, an organization that provides essential medical care in regions lacking sufficient public-health infrastructure. In “A Tender Hand in the Presence of Death,” Larissa MacFarquhar follows a hospice nurse as she cares for terminal patients in Brooklyn. In a piece from 1984, John McPhee chronicles the valiant work of a group of young doctors practicing family medicine in Maine. Finally, in “Is Health Care a Right?,” Atul Gawande examines whether Americans are ready to embrace the concept of health care as a universal right. At a time of great uncertainty, these stories offer a reminder of the extraordinary work that physicians and other medical workers do.

David Remnick


Photograph by Eugene Richards for The New Yorker

The daily work of a hospice nurse, who treats the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of people at the most vulnerable point of their lives.


Illustration by Brian Stauffer

The underground race to spread medical knowledge as the Syrian regime erases it.


Partners in Health wants to rebuild entire countries’ medical systems, and bring health care to some of the poorest people on earth.


In the age of medical technicians with machines and clipboards, the local, family doctor returns.


It’s a question that divides Americans, including those from my home town. But it’s possible to find common ground.



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