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From our Executive Director: Remembering Paul Farmer

March 2022

Like many across the world, I was shocked to hear about the death of Dr. Paul Farmer last month.

Dr. Farmer was a global health champion, an advocate for the poor, and an inspiration for a generation of people interested in global health and social justice. He was an infectious disease physician, medical anthropologist, and a Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He co-founded Partners in Health, a non-profit that provides health care to the poorest communities across the world. 

I count myself as one of many people who was deeply inspired by Dr. Farmer, beginning twenty years ago as a recent college graduate interested in global health. Like many others, I was first introduced to his work through Tracy Kidder’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains. During medical training, I had the fortune of meeting him and learning from a community of global health practitioners who joined in his work.

Dr. Farmer advocated for a “preferential option for the poor in health care.” He highlighted the structural factors that adversely impact marginalized communities. He reminded us of the importance of solidarity with those whom we are serving. Both his words and example will continue to motivate many of us working to increase health equity in our communities and globally.

My thoughts and wishes are with his family and friends, the people he has impacted, and those who continue to carry forward his work.

Basim Khan, MD Executive Director