The sudden, unexpected death of global health leader, humanitarian and scholar Dr Paul Farmer, at age 62, has been met with an outpouring of grief and appreciation for his work for health justice. He passed away in his sleep, while in Rwanda.
Farmer was 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, a non-profit organisation with the tagline “injustice has a cure”.
Farmer and colleagues pioneered novel, community-based treatment strategies to deliver high-quality healthcare in resource-poor settings. He wrote extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of inequality.
He wrote many books, including: In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez; Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction; and To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. His most recent book is Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History.
From the Clinton family
Former United States President Bill Clinton issued this statement:
“Chelsea, Hillary, and I are devastated by the sudden passing of our dear friend Dr Paul Farmer.
Paul was one of the most extraordinary people we have ever known. His pioneering work with Partners In Health touched millions of lives, advanced global health equity, and fundamentally changed the way health care is delivered in the most impoverished places on Earth. He was brilliant, passionate, kind, and humble. He saw every day as a new opportunity to teach, learn, give, and serve – and it was impossible to spend any amount of time with him and not feel the same.
Our family is profoundly grateful to have benefited from his many gifts for more than 20 years, going back to the time Chelsea read his work at Stanford, reached out to him, and gained his mentorship and friendship. We are forever honored to have worked closely with him in Haiti, Rwanda, and beyond; to serve alongside him on the board of the Clinton Health Access Initiative; and to be counted among his multitude of friends around the globe.
Paul’s passing is an immense loss to the world, but we know his spirit will live on through the incredible work of Partners In Health and all its partners, the many people who were inspired, as we were, by his example, and everyone who is living a healthier life today because he lived and served.
Our thoughts are with Paul’s wife, Didi; their children, Catherine, Elisabeth, and Sebastian; his mother, Ginny; his entire family; and all the people who worked with him, learned with him, served with him, and loved him.”
New York Times obituary
Washington Post: How Paul Farmer helped save the lives of millions of people
New Yorker profile from 2000
From 2015, London Review of Books: Who Lives and Who Dies Paul Farmer on the iniquities of healthcare funding
See Croakey’s archive of articles on global health.