On the Passing of Dr. Paul Farmer

February 22, 2022
Paul Farmer Presenting at Conference

It is with heavy hearts that we recognize the passing of Dr. Paul Farmer. Dr. Farmer was the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and co-founder of Partners in Health.


Dr. Farmer was a close colleague, supporter, and friend to all of us the Center for African Studies, where he served as a founding member of our Africa Advisory Board. Dr. Farmer was a regular speaker at CAS events, and he delivered a keynote at our March 2019 conference on Africa-Asia: Partnerships in Health and Healthcare Delivery for Women and Youth (see link below).


Much has been written about Dr. Farmer’s contributions to global public health, from those he inspired to pursue careers in the field to the impact of healthcare he worked to deliver in Haiti, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Dr. Farmer’s presence at the Center for African Studies served as a constant reminder of the need to align healthcare delivery systems with a focus on the actual needs of patients. He recognized the value of community based approaches to healthcare, and he shared that vision with our community.


Beyond the impact of Dr. Farmer’s work, we will miss his spirit, generosity, humility, and enthusiasm. His was a rare presence that brought people together— from heads of state to community healthcare workers, from philanthropists to patients—and Dr. Farmer spent both considerable time living within the communities he worked and advocating on their behalf at the highest levels. He was an advocate of social justice, a medical humanitarian who understood social suffering, and a thoughtful scholar who interrogated the historical processes that had produced structural violence in places like Haiti and Sierra Leone. Despite his decades of expertise in the complex workings of global public health, he remained modest and accessible, and was able to translate that work for seasoned practitioners and the general public alike.


Our prayers are with his wife, Didi, and their three children.

Paul Farmer and Emmanuel Akyeampong Speaking Together
Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong and Dr. Paul Farmer (Johannesburg, March 2019)

Group photo with Emmanuel Akyeampong, Paul Farmer, Tshepo Motsepe, Helen Rees in South Africa for a Conference
Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe, Dr. Helen Rees (Johannesburg, March 2019)

Professor Karen Thornber, Dr. Paul Farmer, Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong, Dr. Wafaie Fawzi, Dr. Alex Ng (Johannesburg, March 2019)

Julius Maada Bio and Dr Paul Farmer
H.E. Julius Maada Bio (Sierra Leone), Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. David Sengeh (Cambridge, March 2019)

Join the Harvard Medical School on March 4, 2022 at 5:30 for Vigil: Remembering Paul Farmer (Harvard Medical School - Quadrangle 200 Longwood Ave., Boston)

Dedication to Dr. Paul Farmer by Mandisi Dyantyis on April 28, 2022: https://vimeo.com/731464142/a40b1f8529

Video Links:

March 8, 2019: Forum on Sierra Leone with President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, featuring Dr. Paul Farmer

March 19, 2019: Dr. Paul Farmer Keynote Speaker - Africa-Asia Partnerships in Health and Healthcare Delivery for Women and Youth