DR PAUL FARMER
USA / Haiti
Dr. Paul E. Farmer - The Good Doctor
Medical anthropologist and physician, Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to treating some of the world's poorest populations, in the process helping to raise the standard of health care in underdeveloped areas of the world. The founder of Partners in Health, an international non-profit organization that provides direct healthcare, research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty, Dr. Farmer and his colleagues have successfully challenged the policymakers and critics who claim that quality health care is impossible to deliver in resource-poor areas.
Dr. Paul Edward Farmer was born in 1959, the second of six children in the aging mill town of North Adams, Massachusetts. In 1966 his father moved the family to Alabama and at auction bought a large bus to accommodate inexpensive family vacations. Ironically, that bus was originally a mobile TB clinic. Dubbed "the Blue Bird Inn" this bus served as their home when they moved to Florida in 1971.
Paul began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 when he was still a student and working with villages in Haiti's Central Plateau. The following year he began medical school at Harvard and two years later helped found Zanmi Lasante (Creole for Partners in Health) serving as its medical director from 1991 to the present. Dr. Farmer received his Ph.D and M.D. simultaneously in 1990 and currently holds the Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard, while still traveling extensively and spending about 5 months in Haiti annually.
Paul Farmer was key in helping Haiti qualify in 2002 among the first group of countries awarded money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With colleagues in Haiti and Peru, Dr. Farmer has helped lead the International response to multi drug-resistant TB, later found to be endemic in the former Soviet Union. He has worked with the World Health Organization and has been chief medical advisor for the tuberculosis Treatment Project in the Prison of Tomsk (Siberia).
Among the numerous awards Dr. Farmer has received in the last decade were the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "genius award" in 1993 and the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, which he received in 2003.
Paul Farmer has made an option for the poor. "Clean water and health care and school and food and tin roofs and cement floor, all of these things should constitute a set of basics that people must have as birthrights," he proclaims. His life has been an incredible symphony seeking to make these basis rights realities for all with whom he comes in contact.
by Global Exchange