Paul Farmer in the news

Blogger’s note: I depend largely on my Google reader system to feed me the anthropology news every week for my weekly round-up of “Anthro in the news.” But a lot that is anthropological goes on under the covers, so to speak: it is just not named “anthropology.”

Out of curiosity, I went to Google news yesterday and typed in “Paul Farmer.” Farmer is probably the most famous living anthropologist who is not known primarily as an anthropologist. That’s why news items about him don’t pop up in my Google reader.

Here’s the catch of the past few days from Google news about Paul Farmer, cultural anthropologist, doctor, and humanitarian activist.

• Book review in JAMA
Partners in Health: The Paul Farmer Reader has been published by the University of California Press. It is what it says it is: a collection of Farmer’s writings. It was just reviewed in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Not many anthropology books get reviewed in JAMA.

• On cancer
The Times of India carried an article about a recent pronouncement by medical specialists in the United States that cancer is a global health issue of high priority. The article quotes Paul Farmer, via the Lancet, as saying “There are clearly effective interventions that can prevent or ease suffering due to many malignancies, and that is surely our duty as physicians or policy makers or health advocates.”

• On why care about Pakistan
An essay in the Huffington Post salutes Paul Farmer in a paragraph pointing to “troubling contrasts” between the amount of aid pledged and given to Haiti after the January earthquake compared to the “averting of eyes” from Pakistan’s tragedy. The author says: “Dr. Paul Farmer sums it up pithily in the title of his book, The Uses of Haiti. The uses of Pakistan are different. We need to move beyond the uses of both our countries and toward understanding them accurately and respectfully in their own terms. Our understanding of Haiti should be more political and of Pakistan less so, or differently so.”

• Pay back time
An open letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy from 90 academics, authors, journalists, and human rights activists around the world urged the French government to repay the 90 million gold francs that Haiti was forced to pay for its independence. Paul Farmer says “there are powerful arguments in favour of the restitution of the French debt.”

• Staying alive is more than medical
Fonkoze, an NGO that provides micro-credit loans in Haiti, realized that its programs miss the most needy. Fonkoze talked with Paul Farmer who said that his organization, Partners in Health, would create Fonkoze branches at all their hospitals. This partnership sounds promising and could help with the following comment from Farmer: “I’m really tired of taking these people who are close to death and making them better again, and then I have to watch them starve to death because they have no way to make a living.”

Image: “Paul Farmer speaks at IDEO,” from flickr user GlobalX, licensed with Creative Commons.

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