Health: Paul Farmer, Public Health Luminary, RIP

The Story:

Paul Farmer, a native of North Adams, Massachusetts, and a prominent citizen of the world, died February 21, from an “acute cardiac event” in Rwanda.


Farmer spent his life working to provide free health care to the people of the world’s poorest communities. He was the subject of a book published in 2003 by Random House, written by Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains. The book chronicles Farmer’s work for patients with tuberculosis in Haiti, Peru, and Russia.

Farmer created the organization Partners in Health, a Boston based nonprofit that builds hospitals, hires and trains local staff, and delivers a range of in-person healthcare services. It also advances health at the level of public institutions such as water treatment and the availability of food.

In Pill Form:

Moving tributes for Farmer emerged after his death from people around the world. In Rwanda, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho called his death an event of “unimaginable catastrophe to all of us, and the whole global health community as a whole,” adding that “A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered.” Farmer was the Chancellor, and Binagwaho the Vice Chancellor, of the University of Global Health Equity, in Kigali, Rwanda. The creation of UGHE was a project of Partners in Health.



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