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Dr. Farmer and Holistic Community Health


Written by Plant With Purpose on October 9, 2009 in General


by Corbyn Small

Dr. Paul Farmer is an American physician and anthropologist who sits as chairman of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. But he doesn’t just sit, Dr. Farmer has spent much of his time since he was a college student doing medical research focused on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in the third world countries of Haiti, Rwanda, and Peru. He was one of the principle founders of Partners In Health, which is now 11,ooo strong and focused on a community development model that trains locals in each community as community health workers and nurses. He is completely committed to building local capacities, and he is using health care at the helm of his strategic plan to create jobs, eradicate preventable diseases, and restore what may never have existed in the first place- social dignity.


I had the pleasure and the honor of hearing Dr. Farmer speak at the University of San Diego last night and was taken back by his ability to relay complicated and technical medical jargon effectively and at times almost colloquially. He spoke from his heart and connected with his audience. He encouraged everyone to be involved, explaining that it is going to take more than just health care to make a lasting difference. It is going to take infrastructure, education, micro-finance and countless other efforts to make poverty history. He posed the questions, “How can we add up to more than just the sum of all our parts?” and “How can we make this (his work in health care) more effective? This is what I want to think about for the rest of my life.” 

Farmer understands that there is no one panacea or end all to poverty, and that it will take collaboration, partnerships, and a commitment to social justice in order to see sustainable development.
Perhaps someday we at Plant With Purpose will have the opportunity to collaborate directly with Dr. Farmer. Until then, we can continue applying holistic solutions that will lead to holistic community health and prosperity.

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