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

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

9 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

10 hours ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

2 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

2 days ago

Former President Donald Trump, center, appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023...

Associated Press

Manhattan court searching for jurors to hear first-ever criminal case against a former president

Jury selection is set to start Monday in former President Donald Trump's hush money case — the first trial of the presumptive nominee.

2 days ago

Former President Donald Trump, center, appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023...

Sponsored Content by

Jury selection is set to start Monday in former President Donald Trump's hush money case — the first trial of the presumptive nominee.

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

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