Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world's poorest people. He 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. Dr. Farmer began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 while still a student, working with dispossessed farmers in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Starting with a one-building clinic in the village of Cange, Partners In Health’s project in Haiti has grown to a multi-service health complex that includes a primary school, an infirmary, a surgery wing, a training program for health outreach workers, a 104-bed hospital, a women’s clinic, and a pediatric care facility. Over the past twenty years, PIH has expanded operations to twelve sites throughout Haiti and twelve additional countries around the globe. The work has become a model for health care for poor communities worldwide: Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.Â
Dr. Farmer holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; he is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Dr. Farmer is also the United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, under Special Envoy Bill Clinton.
Dr. Farmer has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. His most recent book is Haiti After the Earthquake. Other titles include Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, The Uses of Haiti, Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues, and AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame. Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, chronicles the development of Dr. Farmer's work in Haiti and beyond.
Dr. Farmer is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award from the American Medical Association, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.