A Tribute to Dr. Paul Farmer from a Healthcare Security Leader

In this world there are examples of human beings who are inspiring. One such person was Dr. Paul Farmer, Anthropologist, Physician, and Humanitarian.

Dr. Farmer has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I work daily as a Healthcare Security Leader. Some might think that this is a profession very distinct from the role of a global health advocate and physician. Perhaps, if you focus just on the outer appearance, it may be. If you look more deeply, however, our roles are people roles. Our business is people business. Our job is to contribute to helping others. I have found no greater inspiration for how to go about serving others in Healthcare Security than that of Dr. Paul Farmer. Sometimes instructive inspiration is found most potently when one looks outside the constraints of one’s chosen discipline or profession. Lessons can be learned from anywhere. For me, Dr. Farmer is a Teacher of Service.

Dr. Farmer’s writings are recommended for anyone who wishes to see examples of how to serve the world through a particular discipline (in his case, medicine) and in a selfless manner that challenges the status quo. His writings are instructive and inspiring, regardless of one’s discipline or profession.

Dr. Farmer constantly challenged the established medical community and human rights activists to reconsider the nature of global healthcare. Dr. Farmer served others with an embodied philosophy that quality healthcare should be a basic human right and that the commodification of healthcare contributes to “structural violence” that perpetuates global health inequity.

Dr. Farmer was a very boots-on-the-ground kind of man, helping others with direct patient care. He was also a prolific writer about helping others. We credit him with introducing us to Liberation Theology, the principles with which he wove a model of helping others (globally) in effective and sustainable ways.

Dr. Farmer recently died in Rwanda at a hospital he helped to found. See this New York Times article.

See this very nice tribute to Dr. Farmer by Sriram Shamasunder.

Read this article from NPR that includes an interview with Dr. Farmer from 2011.

And here is a trailer to Bending the Arc, a documentary about Dr. Farmer and examples of his work toward global health equity.

May Change Agents everywhere, in every discipline, find inspiration from Dr. Paul Farmer.

May he rest in peace.


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