On World Humanitarian Day: Honoring Paul Farmer

Editor's Note: Rebecca Shore is guest blogging on Her Blueprint. She is a Communications Specialist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Knowledge for Health Project.

On the 2011 World Humanitarian Day web site, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon shares, “There is never a year without humanitarian crises. And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope. From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.”

In honor of World Humanitarian Day, I am highlighting Paul Farmer, an inspiring humanitarian and role model to many of us in public health. In 2007, while attending graduate school for public health I heard Farmer speak to an auditorium of students. He spoke earnestly about his first trip to Haiti as a medical student and how this pushed him forward into his dedicated career in medicine and public health. Paul Farmer’s inspiring organization Partners in Health (PIH) affects public health professionals all over the world, as does his role as United States Special Envoy to Haiti.

Farmer’s work with PIH and his work in Haiti encompasses who he is and what he does. Farmer is funny and charismatic, loves his patients, and breaks conventions to help the greatest number of people. Currently, Farmer is also a professor in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and author of many poignant books and journal articles. His newest book Haiti After the Earthquake details the damage and destruction of Haiti in 2010 following the massive earthquake and his struggle to help the displaced and injured in a country where he had been working for more than twenty years.

Humanitarians improve the health and well-being of people all over the world from the smallest village to the largest of cities. On this day, reserved for those who come to aid the suffering in crisis we must acknowledge everyone but also one of the greatest humanitarians alive. Paul Farmer's compassion and care is an example for all of us.