62-year-old Dr. Paul Farmer, who is a renowned global health advocate, Harvard Medical School professor, anthropologist, and co-founder of the NGO Partners in Health, has passed away. It came as a shock to many, as the legend had no signals around him. Sources say Farmer unexpectedly passed away in his sleep while in Rwanda.
“Paul Farmer’s loss is devastating, but his vision for the world will live on through Partners in Health. Paul taught all those around him the power of accompaniment, love for one another, and solidarity. Our deepest sympathies are with his wife Didi and three children,” Sheila Davis, the CEO of PIH, said in a statement.
He had actively been teaching before his at the University of Global Health Equity which he co-founded for the past few weeks before his demise.
Farmer helped provide lifesaving HIV medications to the people of Haiti in the early 2000s, in addition to opening hospitals in Rwanda and Haiti. Those who work with him, though, claim that his legacy is even greater.
Farmer practically lived in Haiti while pursuing his medical degree, among extremely low-income farmers who didn’t even have access to reliable electricity, let alone health care. Farmer was adamant about changing that.
Farmer co-founded Partners in Health in Haiti in 1987 with the goal of providing high-quality care to patients from low-income families and those who live far from medical facilities.
Over the next three decades, PIH extended to countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as Russia and the United States’ Navajo Nation. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, by Tracy Kidder, was published in 2003 and became mandatory reading for many students and practitioners in global health.
Farmer, according to Dr. Victor Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine, wasn’t only aiming to provide basic services. He intended to bring in the most advanced medicines, such as HIV/AIDS meds that were only available in wealthy nations at the time.
Farmer had a deep understanding of how health and poverty are linked as an anthropology. “You must consider what is going on with the patient in front of you and consider how to solve societal inequities. If there is a food shortage, you must supply food as part of your care. You can also provide transportation to the clinic or send community health professionals to the patient if they drop out of treatment “In a 2020 interview with NPR, he stated.
Farmer’s legacy is discussed by Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine. “No one else will ever be like him,” he says. “I believe Paul died doing what he loved best: caring for patients, teaching, and showing love to everyone.”
The legend made sure his presence on earth was felt by many, as he reach to the needy and less privileged with all he could. He will be greatly missed.