iOS app Android app

Mary Anne Mercer
Mary Anne Mercer began life in rural Montana and recently returned to her Montana roots, where she is rehabilitating a small ranch near Red Lodge. She holds a doctoral degree in public health and is on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches global health. During the academic year she also studies writing in Seattle. She has worked or studied in 15 developing countries, lived in rural Nepal and Thailand, and currently supports maternal and newborn care projects in Timor-Leste for a nonprofit organization, Health Alliance International. In addition to academic publications, Mary Anne co-edited a book on the health effects of globalization, "Sickness and Wealth: the Corporate Assault on Global Health" and is a contributor to "Secret Histories: Stories of Courage, Risk, and Revelation." She was a Silver Solas Award winner for Travelers' Tales in 2012.

Entries by Mary Anne Mercer

Why Are We Waging War on the People of Yemen?

(7) Comments | Posted December 1, 2015 | 2:13 PM

Co-authored by Aisha Jumaan and Ann Marie Kimball

An unprecedented cyclone ripped up the Arabian Sea on November 1, making landfall in the Republic of Yemen. The storm made international news. However, a far more dangerous and deadly storm -- a war -- has engulfed this country of...

Read Post

After September 11, Waiting for the Big One

(7) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 9:17 AM

Does everyone do this? Hearing that September 11 is coming up, do you think back to where you were when you heard the news? What you were doing, who you talked to first, how you worried about friends or family living anywhere in the vast metropolis of New York City....

Read Post

The Nepal Earthquake: What We Lost at the Epicenter

(2) Comments | Posted June 5, 2015 | 6:00 PM

As the pictures and reports of the first Nepal earthquake began to emerge, news from Kathmandu was horrific, an unimaginable destruction of people's lives, homes, and cultural histories. But later hearing that Barpak and Gumda were at the epicenter gripped me even more tightly with a feeling of...

Read Post

Preventing Infant Deaths: What Can We Learn From Cuba?

(5) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 5:53 PM

On a recent trip to Cuba I determined to find out how that country manages to have an infant mortality rate well below that of the U.S., with dramatically fewer resources than we have. It defies logic, but in spite of its poverty Cuba demonstrates remarkably good health outcomes, particularly...

Read Post

No Shelter: Counting the Homeless in Seattle

(5) Comments | Posted February 4, 2015 | 12:24 PM

It was three AM. I was walking down a street in one of Seattle's toniest neighborhoods with my 25-year-old daughter and another young woman. We were part of Seattle/King County's One Night Count of the homeless, a massive effort to document the number of "unsheltered" persons on a...

Read Post

Opportunities Lost -- Could Ebola Have Been Better Contained?

(6) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 1:53 PM

Co-authored by Scott Barnhart and Amy Hagopian

In a desperate attempt to contain the highly contagious Ebola virus in Liberia, 50,000 people were recently quarantined in a slum neighborhood of Monrovia, whether they were sick or not. Imagine being trapped in an open-air prison without any sense of...

Read Post

Mobile Phones Save Lives in Timor-Leste

(11) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 8:14 PM

A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave. This common saying reflects the reality in many developing countries: bearing a child is one of the main risks to a woman's life. In the poor countries of the world, giving birth is both one of the most significant days in...

Read Post

12 Years a Slave -- In a Bangladesh Garment Factory?

(1) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 7:21 PM

I recently saw the new Steve McQueen film 12 Years a Slave. Gruesome and yet compelling, it tells the true story of a free black man in the mid-1800s, Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped from New York and sold South into slavery. The movie is based on a best-selling book...

Read Post

Gotta Cigarette? How the Tobacco Companies are Gaining Ground in Promoting Coffin Nails for the World Through the TPP

(10) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 3:11 PM

A few decades ago we began to understand that using tobacco kills, and by now few Americans have any doubt that smoking is bad for us. Public health campaigns replaced the happy talk in cigarette ads with restrictions on advertising and warning labels on the packaging. As a result of...

Read Post

Five Days on the Triumph Cruise Ship -- or a Lifetime in an Urban Slum?

(4) Comments | Posted February 25, 2013 | 6:17 PM

Can you imagine having to spend five entire days in the tropics confined to crowded quarters with thousands of others, without functioning plumbing or adequate food? With sewage and its stench surrounding you, helpless to escape? And, needless to say, no air conditioning?

That experience is not limited to...

Read Post

America's Best-Kept Secret: We All Die Too Young

(10) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 4:03 PM

Did you know that, as an American, you're likely to have worse health and die younger than someone in virtually any other rich nation in the world? This is true regardless of who you are or what you do to live as healthy a life as possible.

This distressing news...

Read Post

Finding a New Meaning for Prayer

(23) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 12:19 PM

My mother was a great believer in prayer. As a child I also found comfort in the belief that Someone was "up there" listening to our smallest thoughts and needs. But there was a confusion around it too, particularly the "if it is Your will" part. If it was God's...

Read Post

Maternal Mortality Rising in the US? What About Mother's Day?

(3) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 7:06 PM

Mother's Day is celebrated in most countries around the world -- mothers everywhere are honored for their central role in maintaining happy families and healthy societies. But in poor countries, Mother's Day is too often a sad time. In 2008, a woman died every 90 seconds somewhere in the world...

Read Post

Food Today, None Tomorrow

(14) Comments | Posted January 9, 2012 | 1:01 PM

What responsibility do we in the West have to atone for the suffering we have caused in faraway places? I can't get out of my mind Adam Nossiter's recent front page article in the New York Times, "For Congo Children, Food Today Means None Tomorrow." He interviews...

Read Post

The Zen of Christmas

(27) Comments | Posted December 23, 2011 | 2:47 PM

As someone who has spent a lot of time in other countries, I often wonder: how is Christmas different from the holidays (and holy days) of other cultures? In my professional life I am exposed to the celebrations of other lands, which are mostly religious ones. When I lived in...

Read Post

Another Look at the Seven Billion

(5) Comments | Posted November 16, 2011 | 3:47 PM

When I heard about the seven billionth baby born somewhere in the world, I wondered if it might be Vishnu Maya's grandchild.

I met Vishnu Maya on my first week of public health work in Nepal. I had arrived in one of the many remote rural areas of the...

Read Post

The Somali Famine: Where Are the Bad Guys When We Need Them?

(13) Comments | Posted September 28, 2011 | 7:00 PM

In a world where adequate food is produced to feed everyone -- why are so many people still starving to death? Can any of us imagine what it would be like to watch our small child starve slowly, over many weeks, to simply fade away, painfully, and miserably? Or perhaps...

Read Post

Parents, Welcome Those Late-Night Phone Calls!

(6) Comments | Posted July 22, 2011 | 9:03 PM

Late one night last week (not all that late, but well after I was sleeping soundly) the phone rang -- louder, more insistent than usual, I thought in my groggy haze.

"Mom, did I wake you?"

"Umm...honey, you know I'm always asleep by eleven. So, yes, I was sound...

Read Post