Though he now not walks with us, Paul Farmer’s legacy may be very a lot alive.
Farmer, who died unexpectedly on Feb. 21, on the age of 62, whereas educating in Rwanda, opened a path to the way forward for well being fairness by pioneering a follow of medication for these most in want that mixes world-class medical care with a holistic and deeply ethical dimension to stopping sickness. The strategy, which is predicated on social science analysis, additionally promotes wellness and takes under consideration the social, cultural, financial, and environmental context of every particular person, a sort of medication that guarantees to function a vital benchmark for all who search to construct a more healthy, extra simply world.
That was the central message of a daylong occasion at Harvard College’s Sanders Theatre on Oct. 1 that mixed a memorial program and an inaugural educational symposium to rejoice Farmer’s life and work and honor his pioneering achievements.
Farmer was the Kolokotrones College Professor and chair of the Division of World Well being and Social Medication within the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, chief of the Division of World Well being Fairness at Brigham and Ladies’s Hospital, and co-founder and chief strategist of Companions In Well being.
College, colleagues, college students, mentees, and associates of Farmer regarded to his phrases and deeds for steerage into the way to proceed the work that he had devoted his life to. The occasion, organized by Harvard Medical Faculty, was open to the general public. A video will probably be obtainable quickly.
An ideal, sacred tree
The day started with a memorial program celebrating Farmer’s accomplishments as a health care provider, a scholar, an educator, and a frontrunner who helped launch a rising motion to construct community-based, global-scale options for an equitable, human rights-based strategy to well being care.
Whereas Farmer was an incredible mild that shined the world over, every particular person has that very same mild inside, famous Emmanuel Akyeampong, the Ellen Gurney Professor of Historical past and of African and African American Research at Harvard College and minister for worship and formation within the Harvard Memorial Church.
“Allow us to depart right here resolute that our mild will drive away the darkish shadows of despair wherever our toes might carry us,” stated Akyeampong, who delivered the opening and shutting remarks on the memorial.
Harvard College President Lawrence Bacow welcomed Farmer’s household, colleagues, associates, college students, different members of the neighborhood in attendance, and those that joined from all over the world through livestream. Bacow spoke of Farmer’s impassioned dedication to the worth of each particular person, regardless of the place they lived or below what circumstances, as a robust inspiration.
“My time with him was a present that I’ll treasure ceaselessly,” Bacow stated. He famous that there’s a Jewish custom that holds that every technology consists of 36 individuals whose righteousness justifies the existence of the world. Whereas the identification of these 36 righteous people stays a secret unknown even to themselves, Bacow stated, Farmer was a candidate for inclusion.
“Paul, I consider, was an individual who walked amongst us for a time to remind us that none of us travels alone,” Bacow stated. “We proceed by means of life alongside each other, and each step that we take collectively, as people and thru the establishments we construct, ought to deliver us nearer to our beliefs.”
This system additionally included private reflections from Farmer’s colleagues, household, mentors, college students, and associates, together with Bryan Stevenson, founder and government director, Equal Justice Initiative; Invoice Gates, co-chair, Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis; and Jim Yong Kim co-founder, Companions in Well being and former head of the World Financial institution and of the HMS division of world well being and social medication.
Farmer’s spouse, Didi Bertrand Farmer, spoke in regards to the deep sense of loss her household and Farmer’s closest associates shared not solely with one another however with the many individuals all over the world who’ve been touched by Farmer’s work. When information of Farmer’s sudden passing unfold in Haiti, Bertrand Farmer’s native nation, many individuals used a typical expression spoken to mark the passing of a pillar of the neighborhood, a Creole phrase meaning “an incredible, sacred tree has fallen.”
Farmer, who was extensively identified for his love of bushes and gardening, spent many hours over time planting bushes all over the world. Farmer additionally planted the seeds of a greater future within the clinics and academic applications he based, the lives he saved and formed, and the various associates and college students he left behind, Bertrand Farmer stated.
“Whereas all of us mourn our nice tree that has fallen, we take nice pleasure in any respect the others which have grown up tall round it,” Bertrand Farmer stated.