Dr. Paul Farmer is sort of the rock god of global health. He’s an incredibly busy and influential guy, so when he flew in from Liberia to spend the entire day here with us at the Carver College of Medicine, it wasn’t easy to keep the stars from our eyes. Of course, he’s a physician, but he’s also a medical anthropologist, chief of Brigham and Women’s Division of Global Health Equity, professor of medicine at Harvard, and the UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. One of the things you notice about Dr. Farmer is that although he’s clearly a celebrity in his field, it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm, idealism, and the pleasure he takes in meeting students who share his passion for understanding and changing how healthcare is delivered to the world’s neediest people.
What’s more, he’s the founding director of Partners in Health, an international non-profit that provides direct healthcare services, research, and advocacy to the sick and impoverished around the world in places like Liberia, Haiti, and here in the US. So, yes, he has things to do.
All of which is to say that it’s a particular honor that Petra Hahn, Katie Ryken, Josh Bleicher, Jordan Harbaugh Williams, and Greg Yungtum got to chat with him for this week’s show to explore the differences between charity, development and liberation medicine; it’s Dr. Farmer’s emphasis on the latter, and his view that the poor deserve preferential treatment, that makes him such a force in global health.
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