American physician and anthropologist, Dr. Paul Farmer, died yesterday aged 62. Dr Farmer wad a professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founded the non-profit health organisation, Partners in Health. He passed away after an acute cardiac event while in Rwanda, where he was teaching at the University of Global Health Equity, which he helped establish.
DTHC Director, Prof. Linda-Gail Bekker, says he will be deeply missed: “Paul was that wonderful type of action person- he was a “doer” but his distinction was that he “did” with a huge heart. His deep sense of compassion was his driver. He achieved so much for so many,”.
Farmer wrote extensively on health and human rights and became world-renowned for his commitment to providing healthcare to millions of impoverished people around the world. He was part of the teams pioneering novel, community-based treatment strategies delivering healthcare to resource-poor settings. In the early-2000’s Farmer helped bring life-saving treatment to people living with HIV in Haiti.
He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, who awarded him the 2018 Public Welfare Medal. Farmer co-founded Partners in Health in 1987 with the mission to provide care to patients from impoverished backgrounds and those living far from health care facilities. Farmer become globally recognised after being profiled in the 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, by writer Tracy Kiddler. The book has since become required reading for global health students and practitioners around the world.
Although the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation has not had the good fortune to directly collaborate with Partners In Health, we share so many of similar values. Their work, their advocacy and their activism has complemented and amplified ours. Paul’s leadership was greatly valued and we wish PIH our very best wishes and deepest condolences as they continue the great work.