Paul Farmer on Leadership in Public Health for the Poor
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Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. He chairs the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and is a founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. He also is professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Farmer began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 while still a student, working with dispossessed farmers in Haiti’s Central Plateau. He served there for ten years as medical director of a charity hospital, L’Hôpital Bon Sauveur. With PIH over the past twenty-six years, Dr. Farmer has led colleagues working in twelve sites throughout Haiti and twelve additional countries around the globe. For more than a decade, the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine has integrated research and teaching programs with PIH service activities, establishing direct feedbacks between clinical interventions and biosocial analyses. The work has become a model for health care for poor communities worldwide and provides the basis for developing a science of global health delivery implementation. Dr. Farmer holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. In addition to his leadership roles at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Partners In Health, he is the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.