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Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader Paperback – April 21, 2010
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If the world is curious about Paul Farmer, there is a reason for that. No one has done more than he has in bringing modern medicine to the poor across the globe and no one has exceeded him in making us appreciate the diverse barriers that prevent proper medicine from reaching the underdogs of the world. In this wonderful collection of essays, putting together Paul Farmer’s writings over more than two decades, we can see how his far-reaching ideas have developed and radically enhanced the understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare in the uneven world in which we live. This is an altogether outstanding book.”Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Economics
"To delve into these pages is to join one of the world's great explorers on an epic life journeyto grapple with culture, poverty, disease, health care, ethics, and ultimately our common humanity in the Age of AIDS. Paul Farmer is a pioneer, guide, and inspiration at a time of unprecedented contrasts: between wealth and poverty, power and powerlessness, health and disease, compassion and neglect. His medical expertise, anthropological vision, and unflinching decency have helped to recharge our world with moral purpose."Jeffrey D. Sachs, Columbia University
"Wow! Perfect for teaching. This is more than vintage Farmer. Editor Haun Saussy knows Farmer's work inside out and has assembled and organized 25 classic articles that project the heart of Farmer's brilliant, radical, inspiring, eminently practical and (dare I say) genuinely subversive work."Philippe Bourgois, author of Righteous Dopefiend
"If they gave Nobel Prizes for raising moral awareness, Paul Farmer would have won his a long time ago. For several decades now, his work has posed a challenge to anyone who dares say that radically improving the health of the world's poor can't be done. This splendid compilation of the best of his work allows us to follow a restless, creative, compassionate mind in action, in and out of prisons and barrios and mud huts and hospital wards, from Haiti to Rwanda to Moscow, never taking 'no' for an answer."Adam Hochschild, author of Bury the Chains
"Paul Farmer is a deep scholar of Haitian society, a formidable medical anthropologist, an implacable theorist of structural violence and health as a human right, and an ethicist for whom the place of social justice in medicine and in the world is an existential need. This book is the platform of interconnected intellectual, academic, and practical engagements upon which the amazing, world-transforming life of Farmer stands."Arthur Kleinman, author of What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life amidst Uncertainty and Danger
"This collection shows the impressive catalytic effects of original scholarship when combined with action, activism, and a commitment to social justice in health. Paul Farmer and his PIH colleagues have twice changed World Health Organization policies; they continue to have a lasting impact on the global health movement and on the lives of the poor.Peter Brown, Emory University
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Paul Farmer connects material and ideas from scientific, medical, sociological, anthropological, and literary fields, and from personal and professional experience on several continents over several decades, always privileging the perspectives of the poor thereby providing many fresh ways for readers to understand the relationship between the rich world and the poor world. And Farmer provides the reader with new ways to think about reducing inequalities between those two worlds.
Many topics and descriptions of Farmer's patients' lives are heart-rending, but one also emerges joyful to be a human after being in Paul Farmer's written presence.
Dr. Farmer writes clearly and unsparingly about his experiences and about the changes he would like to see in the world. That poor people want to be healthy just as much as rich people. That social interventions such as healthy food and home visits (accompagnateurs) make measurable differences in outcomes. That a lot of "it won't work" arguments are really "we don't want to try" arguments.
He mixes brutal realism -- stories about people whose lives go downhill until they die -- with unkillable optimism -- just do this, and this, and lots more people can lead healthy lives.
Read this book. Then go out and do something.
If you are working in the developing world then you need to read this book.