Dr. Paul Farmer, a global health activist, has died.
Dr. Paul Farmer, a global health advocate, Harvard Medical School professor, anthropologist, and co-founder of the NGO Partners in Health, passed away at the age of 62. In a tweet on Monday, PIH announced his death.
Farmer “unexpectedly died away tonight in his sleep while in Rwanda,” according to the tweet, where he had been lecturing at the institution he co-founded for the last several weeks. Farmer has been in Rwanda for many weeks, according to a source close to him, lecturing at the University of Global Health Equity, a medical institution he helped build with Rwanda’s former minister of health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho.
“Although Paul Farmer’s death is tragic, his goal for the world lives on via Partners in Health. Paul instilled in everyone around him the importance of companionship, love, and unity. Our hearts break for his wife Didi and their three children “Sheila Davis, the CEO of PIH, stated in a statement.
Farmer helped provide lifesaving HIV medications to the people of Haiti in the early 2000s, in addition to establishing hospitals in Rwanda and Haiti. Those who work with him, though, claim that his legacy is much greater.
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“I believe it is difficult for many people to comprehend how outstanding Paul was in so many ways. He really prompted us to think about… the world’s health inequities “Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Joe Rhatigan agrees. When they were both medical residents in the early 1990s, he met Farmer for the first time. Farmer, he claims, became a mentor fast.
Farmer practically lived in Haiti while pursuing his medical degree, among very low-income farmers who didn’t even have access to reliable power, much alone health care. Farmer was adamant about changing it.
Farmer co-founded Partners in Health in Haiti in 1987 with the goal of providing high-quality treatment to patients from low-income families and those who live far from medical facilities. Over the following three decades, PIH extended to nations in Africa and Latin America, as well as Russia and the United States’ Navajo Nation. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, by Tracy Kidder, was published in 2003 and became mandatory reading for many students and practitioners in global health.
Farmer, according to Dr. Victor Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine, wasn’t only aiming to provide basic services. He intended to bring in the most advanced medicines, such as HIV/AIDS meds that were only accessible in affluent nations at the time.
“Paul thought that by giving to the poor and underprivileged, you can provide the finest care to everyone. Many people believed it was impossible, yet it was “Dzau explains.
Farmer devised ingenious solutions to make it work, enlisting the help of local community health workers to give treatment that was previously only available from physicians. Farmer was immensely successful in spreading the word about his ideas, garnering funds, and effectively founding the area of global health equality throughout the years.
Farmer had a deep knowledge of how health and poverty are linked as an anthropology. “You must consider what is going on with the patient in front of you and consider how to solve societal inequities. If there is a food shortage, you must supply food as part of your care. You may also give transportation to the clinic or send community health professionals to the patient if they drop out of treatment “In a 2020 interview with NPR, he said.
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He was awarded the million-dollar Berggruen Prize for philosophy and culture in 2020, an honour given to someone who has made significant contributions to the advancement of ideas that impact the world. In 2019, he was also awarded Rwanda’s National Order of Outstanding Friendship, which recognises those who have gone above and beyond in encouraging international collaboration between Rwanda and other nations.
Farmer was just as devoted to his peasant farmer neighbours as he grew to worldwide notoriety, according to his colleague Dr. Joe Rhatigan. On excursions to the United States, they would often request that he bring stuff back for them.
“Like an electric toothbrush or other little item that is exclusively available in the United States,” Rhatigan explains. “He’d take it as seriously as drafting a letter to a head of state.”
Farmer sought to have an optimistic view for low-income nations throughout the coronavirus outbreak. When asked if he was hopeful or pessimistic about the pandemic’s effect on those countries, he told NPR: “Let’s all cross our fingers and hope for the best. That, however, is not preparation. Perhaps a smattering of pessimism might motivate us to properly prepare for a public health disaster.”
On Twitter, world leaders, global health advocates, students, former coworkers, and celebrities sent their sympathies.
He graduated from Duke University in 1982 and went on to Harvard University, where he obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in anthropology. He was born in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Farmer’s legacy is discussed by Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine. “No one else will ever be like him,” he adds. “I believe Paul died doing what he loved best: caring for patients, educating, and showing love to everyone.”
Didi Bertrand Farmer, Farmer’s wife, and their three children survive him.
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