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Paul Farmer has died

22 February, 2022

Paul Farmer has died

Dear friends and colleagues working in primary health care and community health:

The world has lost one of its greatest champions for our cause.

The obituary from the New York Times and a tribute from Gretchen Berggren are attached [*see notes below]. Gretchen and her late husband Warren were working at the Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti at the time Paul began his work in Haiti.

In solidarity with our cause,

Henry Perry

HIFA profile: Henry Perry is a Senior Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA. Professional interests: Community health and primary health care. hperry2@jhu.edu

[*Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW): Thank you, Henry, this is indeed a great loss for the global health community. HIFA does not carry attachments. The NYT article starts 'Paul Farmer, a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-qualityhealth care to some of the world’s poorest people, died on Monday on the grounds of a hospital and university he had helpedestablish in Butaro, Rwanda. He was 62. Partners in Health, the global public health organization that Dr. Farmer helped found, announced his death in a statement that did not specify the cause...' The full text is available here (after free registration):

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/obituaries/paul-farmer-dead.html [free registration required]

I have cut and pasted the tribute from Gretchen Berggren here: 'Met Paul Farmer in Sister Joan's convent/office in Port au Prince (at the Ecole St Vincent where I had brought a handicapped child from the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in the Artibonite Valley, where my husband I were privileged to serve in community health outreach programs,). Paul was lying on a stretcher, getting an IV because of his diarrhea. Sister Joan encouraged me to speak to him.... "because he is going to Harvard Med School this fall!" I replied, "so is my daughter Ruth!" Then we had a conversation, and Paul always insisted that I sang him a song in Creole about diarrhea prevention. The song in Creole rang a bell. He had arrived in Haiti already speaking Creole! He and Ruth became good friends in medical school and remained so:-- for a time we all served as volunteers in a poverty stricken area of Boston, in the parish of "Father Jack" where Paul had found housing and agreed to help in an outreach clinic. By that time I had moved with my family to teach at the Harvard School of Public Health. The media will forget that Paul was a man of faith. He told me that he often saved the Catholic Church Sunday handout to re-read the scriptures during the week. Sister Joan sent him to help an Episcopal mission near the "Peligre Dam" where many poverty stricken Haitians had been forced to move during the dam construction. And the rest is history...Paul not only helped there but eventually built a rural teaching hospital "in a place where no earthquake is likely to occur!" From there his personal mission to bring practical rural health assisted by resident home visitors became world-wide. Home visitors became known as "accompagnateurs" because they were trained to see that those in need were accompanied to keep their appointments and follow their instructions. Very recently Paul spoke at the University of Colorado soon after my husband Dr. Warren Berggren passed away and began his talk by showing a portrait and paying a tribute to Warren about training rural health workers world-wide,. I will be forever grateful. May God bless his memory to us.'

Partners in Health, the NGO that Paul Farmer co-founded, has posted the following article:

https://www.pih.org/article/remembering-dr-paul-farmer ]