Paul Farmer // Medical Humanitarianism: Possibilities and Pitfalls

Paul Farmer FlyerOctober 18, 2011 —Visions and Voices: The USC Arts & Humanities Initiative hosted medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer, a founding director of Partners In Health, for two events regarding the benefits and challenges of medical humanitarianism.

This lecture was hosted by Visions & Voices and co-sponsored by Keck School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Humanities, Arts and Ethics and USC Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics.


Paul Farmer

Partners in Health

Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer is the Kolokotrones University Professor, Harvard University; Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and a founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Dr. Farmer’s work focuses on community-based treatment strategies for infectious diseases in resource-poor settings, health and human rights, and the role of social inequalities in determining disease distribution and outcomes. He is Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, and served for ten years as medical director of a charity hospital, L’Hôpital Bon Sauveur, in rural Haiti. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel, community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings. Dr. Farmer is also the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, under Special Envoy Bill Clinton.

Dr. Farmer has written extensively about health and human rights, and about the role of social inequalities in the distribution and outcome of infectious diseases. His most recent book is Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader. Other titles include Pathologies of Power, Infections and Inequalities, The Uses of Haiti, and AIDS and Accusation. In addition, he is co-editor of Women, Poverty, and AIDS, of The Global Impact of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis, and of Global Health in Times of Violence. Dr. Farmer is the recipient of the Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the Salk Institute Medal for Health and Humanity, the Duke University Humanitarian Award, the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the American Medical Association’s Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award, the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. In 1993, he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award in recognition of his work. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.