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Remembering Paul Farmer (1959 – 2022)

April 28, 2022

May 2022

SPaul Farmer, MD, PhD

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, died on February 21, 2022, leaving a legacy of pioneering work to bring affordable and accessible health care to under-resourced communities throughout the world, and an absence in the world of public health that will be deeply felt.

Dr. Anthony Fauci referred to Dr. Farmer as a “soul brother” in an article in The New York Times. He was further quoted as saying, “When you talk about iconic giants in the field of public health, he stands pretty much among a very, very short list of people.”

Dr. Farmer was the Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and co-founder and chief strategist of Partners in Health (PIH).

With his PIH colleagues, he developed and implemented community-based treatment strategies to deliver high-quality health care in resource-poor communities. His early work in Haiti during the AIDS crisis demonstrated that door-to-door distribution of antiviral medication was both possible and effective. Initially operating out of a single-room clinic in Haiti, the network of providers grew to include 16 medical centers around the country with local staff of nearly 7,000. PIH’s work expanded into Rwanda and resulted in improved health outcomes in infant mortality and HIV infection, as well as other countries like Peru, Russia, and Lesotho, where he helped to develop new public health approaches.

Dr. Farmer received the Berggruen Prize in 2020, a $1 million award given annually to an influential thought leader. He authored 12 books including Fevers, Feuds, and Diamond: Ebola and the Ravages of History, which was published in 2020 and is the subject of a 2017 documentary entitled “Bending the Arc” and Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains.

In December 2021, Dr. Farmer was the featured speaker in the Blood and Beyond session at the 63rd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. As a tribute to Dr. Farmer, ASH is providing complimentary access to his presentation, “Irrigating the Clinical Desert: Clinical and Laboratory Services and Medical Emergencies,” on ASH Academy On Demand. Follow the “Webcasts” link from academy.hematology.org to access the recording. An ASH login is required; first-time users can create a free account.

Sources: The New York Times, February 21, 2022; Partners in Health, February 21, 2022.

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