Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health Visits Headquarters


Private reception with Dr. Paul Farmer, medical anthropologist and physician, Chair of the Department for Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, founding director of Partners in Health, and UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti. Event sponsored by Direct Relief, a non-profit organization dedicated to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies throughout the world, and by UCSB Arts & Lectures. Photo: Isaac Hernandez.

Direct Relief was privileged to host renowned global humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer on Sunday for a special reception drawing more than 150 guests who left inspired by his passion to help to people in need around the world access quality health care.

A Harvard physician and medical anthropologist as well as subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, Farmer is the founding director of Partners in Health (PIH), an international charity that has worked with Direct Relief since 2008.

Over the last six years, Direct Relief has provided PIH with more than $12 million in medical aid, much of which has helped provide life-saving health care to people in Haiti.

“It’s easy to say ‘I’m against poverty,’ but linking that notion to engagement is more difficult. The link between sentiment and ideals and actually serving others is the difference—PIH can’t do that without “stuff” and that’s how we got connected with you [Direct Relief].”

Farmer shared with the crowd a personal story to illustrate disparities in health care around the world. While he was in residency for medical school, he was hit by a car and wasn’t able to walk for six months. Though a hardship, he recognized that unlike many others living in poverty, he didn’t have to worry about his family, livelihood, or about not being able to walk again.

The experience further solidified his view that all people deserve to have the same care that he had, regardless of the difficulty involved.

“Thank you to Direct Relief for taking so seriously this grand idea of providing the same standard of care, no matter of circumstance. This coming together in partnership is what matters and helps people most,” he said.

He told the audience that despite the challenges, he was encouraged by their involvement in global efforts to help impoverished people access quality health care.

“Effectiveness and compassion [in a program] are very difficult to measure, but it’s those difficult-to-measure things that bring people to a warehouse on a Sunday afternoon—people who care and have compassion for others.”


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