Per Fugelli lecture 2022: The Patient Earth is Sick, but the medical doctors are mainly absent

Open Lecture by Iona Heath.

About Iona Heath

A globus with a stethoscope listening to it
Colourbox illustration

Iona Heath graduated from Cambridge University, and worked as an inner city general practitioner in Kentish Town in London from 1975 until 2010, caring for a mostly disadvantaged and hugely ethnically diverse population. She has been particularly interested to explore the nature of general practice, the importance of medical generalism, issues of justice and liberty in relation to health care, the corrosive influence of the medical industrial complex and the commercialisation of medicine, and the challenges posed by disease-mongering, the care of the dying, and violence within families. Her book Matters of Life and Death was published in 2007, and later translated into other languages. The mystery of general practice was published back in 1995.


17:00-17:05 Welcome and introduction by Vice Rector at UiO Per Morten Sandset
17:05-17:50 "The Patient Earth is Sick, but the medical doctors are mainly absent", by Iona Heath
17:50-17:55 Break
17:55-18:05  Commentary by Mette Brekke
18:05-19:00  Planetary health - undertreatment and overuse - roundtable discussion with Iona Heath, Mette Brekke, Matilde Angeltveit, Ritika Sharma, chaired by John-Arne Røttingen 

Moderators: John-Arne Røttingen and Espen Bjertness

More about Iona Heath

Portrait of Iona Heath
Photo: Private

Iona Heath was a nationally elected member of the Council of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners from 1989 to 2010 and chaired the College’s Committee on Medical Ethics from 1998 to 2004 and the International Committee from 2006 to 2009. She was elected President of the Royal College of General Practitioners for a three-year term from 2009 to 2012.

From 1993 to 2001, she was an editorial adviser for the British Medical Journal and chaired the journal’s Ethics Committee from 2004 to 2009.  She was a member of the world executive of the World Organisation of Family Doctors from 2007 to 2012.  

She gave the Harveian Oration for the UK Royal College of Physicians in 2011. She was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to the Care of Elderly People.

She wrote a regular Op Ed column for the British Medical Journal for eight years and has contributed essays to many other medical journals across the world.

About Per Fugelli (1943- 2017)

Portrait photo of Per Fugelli
Photo: Private

As a general practitioner, Per Fugelli was an independent critic of his own profession for many years. He opposed the bureaucratisation of Norwegian health care institutions. Fugelli took a humanistic approach to health and social policy, focussing on the entire individual. He showed that the best "social medicine" is to build up and share dignity with vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, the poor and those who are physically challenged.

Through countless lectures and fearless participation in a large number of important debates, he was a prominent contributor to Norway's public space fora for a long time. He was awarded The Freedom of Expression Prize 2013.

Obituary by Barbara Casassus in The Lancet

The Patient Earth

The forum inspired students and researchers at the Faculty of Medicine to focus on global health. The topic of this seminar is based on an article from 1993: In search of a global social medicine (pdf). After publishing the article, Fugelli and a group of students established a forum called "The patient earth". The forum inspired students and researchers at the Faculty of Medicine to focus on global health. 

"In each new generation of doctors, ..... this branch of medicine attracts not only analytical minds, but also people who feel a strong vocation to improve health in society by attacking plain injustice. They are impatient with the distant attitude of science." Jan P. Vandenbroucke.

Event Committee

  • Espen Bjertness
  • John-Arne Røttingen
  • Anne Kveim Lie
  • Sine Grude


Department of Community Medicine and Global Health in cooperation with Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE)Vin og verdensproblemer, Norsk medisinstudentforeningStudentforeningen for medisinsk innovasjon (SMI).

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Published Nov. 8, 2022 1:41 PM - Last modified Nov. 11, 2022 3:54 PM