AP

Dr. Paul Farmer, global humanitarian leader, dies at 62

Feb 21, 2022, 1:57 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2022, 1:06 am

In this picture taken Jan. 10, 2012, Partners in Health's co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, gestures dur...

In this picture taken Jan. 10, 2012, Partners in Health's co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, gestures during the inauguration of national referral and teaching hospital in Mirebalais, 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dr. Paul Farmer, a physician, humanitarian and author renowned for providing health care to millions of impoverished people, has died. He was 62. Farmer co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health, which confirmed his death Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, file)

(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, file)

BOSTON (AP) — Dr. Paul Farmer, a U.S. physician, humanitarian and author renowned for providing health care to millions of impoverished people worldwide and who co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health, has died. He was 62.

The Boston-based organization confirmed Farmer’s death on Monday, calling it “devastating” and noting he unexpectedly passed away in his sleep from an acute cardiac event while in Rwanda, where he had been teaching.

Farmer was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of global health equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He wrote extensively on health, human rights and social inequality, according to Partners in Health.

“A compassionate physician and infectious disease specialist, a brilliant and influential medical anthropologist, and among the greatest humanitarians of our time — perhaps all time — Paul dedicated his life to improving human health and advocating for health equity and social justice on a global scale,” wrote George Q. Daley, dean of Harvard University’s Faculty of Medicine, in a statement.

Partners in Health, founded in 1987, said its mission is “to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care.” The organization began its work in Cange, a rural village in Haiti’s central plateau, and later expanded its operations to regions including Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder, who wrote the nonfiction book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World,” told The Associated Press the two traveled together for a month as Farmer treated prisoners and impoverished people in Haiti, Moscow and Paris.

“He was an important figure in the world,” Kidder said. “He had a way of looking around corners and of connecting things. He couldn’t obviously go and cure the whole world all by himself, but he could, with help of his friends, give proof of possibility.”

One of Kidder’s strongest memories of Farmer occurred in Peru, where the doctor was treating patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Kidder recalled a woman wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt who followed them to their car, looking very shy.

With her head down, she said, “Thank you,” to Farmer in Spanish. Kidder recalled: “Paul turned, took each of her hands in his and said, ‘For me, it is a privilege,’ in Spanish.”

He added that Farmer was instrumental in getting AIDS treatments, and created various health systems around the world.

“It really humiliates the nay-sayers, who think it’s somehow OK for some people to get health care and others not,” Kidder said. “It just drove him nuts.”

Michelle Karshan, vice president of a nonprofit prison health care system in Haiti who worked closely with Farmer, said he was determined, innovative and always knew how to get around obstacles and bureaucracy.

“He didn’t take no for an answer,” she said. “He didn’t think anybody was too poor or too illiterate to be entitled to receive health care.”

She noted that when the World Health Organization resisted giving HIV medication to people who were illiterate in Haiti for fear they would not know when or how to take it, Farmer set up his own program and created a chart that relied on the sun’s position. He also hired people known as “accompaniers,” who would hike through Haiti’s rough mountainous terrain to make sure patients had water, food and were taking their medications.

“I’m so sad for all the people who are not going to have him in their lives. He was there for everybody,” Karshan said.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry praised Farmer’s work, as did former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

“Paul Farmer changed the way health care is delivered in the most impoverished places on Earth. He saw every day as a new opportunity to teach, learn, give, and serve — and it was impossible to spend any time with him and not feel the same,” Clinton said in a statement.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of cases reported daily in Massachusetts, local health departments were overwhelmed by the task of contact tracing to help slow the spread of the disease.

The state launched a contact tracing collaborative in April 2020, and asked Partners in Health to lead the initiative, which made more than 2.7 million calls to residents at a total cost of about $158 million, according to the state.

Farmer is survived by his Haitian wife, Didi Bertrand Farmer, and their three children.

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

1 hour ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

2 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

2 days ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

4 days ago

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant served indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Dr. Paul Farmer, global humanitarian leader, dies at 62