Dr. Paul Farmer, who has devoted his life to treating impoverished patients in Haiti and other underdeveloped nations will speak as 1,950 students from the College of Arts and Sciences and Sawyer Business School receive degrees at Suffolk University commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at the Bank of America Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront.
Farmer, a physician and medical anthropologist, began his lifetime commitment to the Haitian poor in 1983 while he was still a student. Later, after entering medical school, he founded the Zanmi Lastane clinic in Haiti. The clinic’s name, translated from Creole, is Partners In Health, and Zanmi Lastane has grown into a complex that includes a primary school, hospital and medical training facility. Farmer took “60 Minutes” on a tour of the facility in 2008 to show the health care challenges poor nations face and what can be done to help.
"A Man Who Would Cure the World"
The subject of Tracy Kidder’s 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, Farmer has embraced a practical and moral mission to bring health care and a better life to those most in need of assistance.
He is chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an attending physician in infectious diseases and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and medical director of the Clinique Bon Sauveur in rural Haiti. As a founding director of the international charitable health-care organization Partners In Health, Farmer has led an effort to deliver health care in poor communities around the world. His innovative, community-based tuberculosis and AIDS treatment strategies have been highly successful in many resource-poor regions.
Efforts in Haiti
Former President Bill Clinton, who serves as the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, appointed Farmer Deputy U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti in August 2009. The January earthquake gave increased urgency to their efforts in the Caribbean nation.
Farmer recently published a collection of his writing since 1988, Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader, with a foreword by Kidder.
Suffolk University will award Farmer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He has received honorary degrees from and delivered commencement addresses at many colleges and universities, including Columbia Medical School, Princeton, and Emory. He was a keynote speaker at the 2006 Notre Dame Forum on The Global Health Crisis and is the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant.