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At a glance: United States of America

UNICEF nominee Paul Farmer receives CDC Foundation Hero Award

UNICEF Image: Dr. Paul Farmer
© Partners In Health/2001/Rosenberg
Partners In Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer with a young patient. His organization works in eight clinics throughout Haiti as well as in Russia, Peru, Rwanda and Lesotho.

NEW YORK, USA, 10 October 2008 – Dr. Paul Farmer, a tireless activist, researcher and public health practitioner whose organization, Partners in Health, provides community-based care for millions of people throughout the developing world, has received the 2008 Hero Award from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Farmer was nominated for the award by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Paul Farmer has been at the cutting edge of public health debate and practice, demonstrating that ‘first world’ health care can be delivered cost-effectively in extremely poor conditions,” said Veneman.

Partners in Health, or PIH, was founded in 1987 – initially, to attend to the most underserved population groups in Haiti. Since then, the organization’s reach has expanded to address the world’s most challenging epidemics and some if its most under-funded health care systems. PIH is currently doing work in Russia and Peru, and across Africa.

Zanmi Lasante project in Haiti
UNICEF works most closely with PIH in the village of Cange on Haiti’s Central Plain. In the past two decades, the Zanmi Lasante (Haitian Creole for Partners In Health) project there has grown from a small local clinic into a full-service hospital with an infectious disease centre, paediatric ward, women’s health clinic and laboratory.

UNICEF Image: Dr. Paul Farmer
© CDC/2008
Dr. Paul Farmer speaks at the award ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received the CDC Foundation Hero Award for his work as an international public health pioneer.

The complex in Cange also provides the surrounding communities with schools and blood banks. There are currently eight Zanmi Lasante outposts across Haiti.

“I have visited all of these communities where Paul has worked, and continue to learn from his actions and thinking,” wrote UNICEF’s Senior Adviser on HIV and AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean, Mark Connelly, in a letter supporting Farmer’s nomination.

“Paul and Partners in Health have set new standards of practice in the international health and development field; and published provocative evidence-based research to challenge traditional, often donor-driven priorities in health,” Connelly added.

Model for global health care
Dr. Farmer – a professor in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Chief of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital – is as concerned about social and economic development issues as he is about public health.

PIH has transplanted and adapted its model of care to the epicentre of the HIV pandemic in Africa, launching projects in Rwanda in 2005 and Lesotho in 2006. Elements of PIH’s community-based approach have been disseminated to and adapted by other countries and programmes worldwide.

Dr. Farmer’s belief in the inseparable nature of these forces is detailed in the latest edition of UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children 2008, for which he co-authored a commentary on ‘Human rights, community-based health care and child survival’.



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