+
upworthy
Health

Global health equity champion Paul Farmer was a great doctor, but an even better human being

Global health equity champion Paul Farmer was a great doctor, but an even better human being

The world bids a sad farewell to Dr. Paul Farmer, champion of global health equity.

You can often tell a lot about a person's life by how the world responds to their death. Over the weekend, when I started seeing a flood of social media messages from healthcare professionals that included words like "devastated" and "gutted," it was clear that someone of influence in the medical world had passed. I'm not in healthcare, but even I recognized Dr. Paul Farmer's name, largely from this quote of his:

"The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong in the world."

After spending decades working and living in various countries around the world, making sure people in underdeveloped nations had access to quality healthcare, Dr. Farmer passed away from an acute cardiac event in his sleep in Rwanda at age 62. His death was like a seismic event in the field of global health, launching a tsunami of grief and remembrance felt around the world, from heads of state who met with him to fellow physicians who worked with him to individuals whose lives he saved.


"It is hard to find the words to express the sad news of the passing of Paul Farmer—the person, the Doctor, the philanthropist. He combined many things hard to find in one person," wrote Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda.

Farmer was physician, a professor, an anthropologist and a fierce advocate for the world's poor. In 1987, he cofounded Partners in Health, one of the world's leading global health and social justice organizations dedicated to bringing high-quality healthcare to those who need it most. Farmer's philosophy was straightforward: The fact that poor people die of illness we have effective treatments for is unacceptable. Farmer's life's work was a testament to his belief that where you live and how much money you have should not determine your right to healthcare.

But Farmer's advocacy work was also much more personal than that. He didn't preach about global equity from atop an ivory tower; he worked on the ground, at the grassroots level, doing hands-on medical care in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Much of Farmer's work involved getting effective AIDS treatments to patients in Haiti and Rwanda in the face of pushback from those who felt it was too expensive or that cultural differences would get in the way. Farmer refused to accept inequity and did everything he could to alleviate it.

“Human rights violations are not accidents; they are not random in distribution or effect," he wrote in "Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor." "Rights violations are, rather, symptoms of deeper pathologies of power and are linked intimately to the social conditions that so often determine who will suffer abuse and who will be shielded from harm.”

He was uncompromising in his belief that every human being, regardless of circumstances, should have access to the best healthcare humanity has to offer. Being born into or living in poverty does not give anyone less of a right to health, and if we have effective treatments for illness and disease, everyone should have access to them.

He touched countless lives—those he treated and those he accompanied in the field of service. Often it was people in the medical field he trained with, but he even inspired people outside of healthcare to use their privilege and know-how to better the lives of others.

When you pass away and everyone who met you has only the most glowing things to say about you, you know you've lived a good life. The world has lost not only a great doctor, but a champion of global health equity who serves as an example to us all.

"His vision for the world will live on through Partners in Health," Sheila Davis, Partners in Health CEO, wrote in a statement. "Paul taught all those around him the power of accompaniment, love for one another, and solidarity. Our deepest sympathies are with his family.”

Watch PBS News Hour's remembrance of Dr. Farmer below, and for more details of his extraordinary work, I highly recommend Tracy Kidder's profile of him in The New Yorker. The man was truly a legend of a human being in all the best ways possible.

Rest in peace, Dr. Farmer. Thanks for showing us how it's done.

Sponsored

From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

True

Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

Teresa Kaye Newman thinks that Boomer parents were right about a few things.

Teresa Kaye Newman, a teacher about to have a son, knows a lot about how to deal with children. So she created a list of 11 things she agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

Newman believes she has credibility on the issue because she has 13 years of experience dealing with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people’s kids and has seen what happens when her so-called “Boomer” parenting principles aren’t implemented.

Of course, Newman is using some broad stereotypes in calling for a return to Boomer parenting ideas when many Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z parents share the same values. But, as someone who deals with children every day, she has the right to point out that today’s kids are entitled and spend too much time staring at screens.

Keep ReadingShow less

Leila Danai doesn't need you to approve of her hair.

A video of a preschool-age girl is capturing hearts because of the incredibly confident way she responded to a boy who didn’t like her hair. Leila Danai, who was 3 and a half when the video was taken, is one of the only Black children in her school, and her mother, Mildred Munjanganja, prepared her for comments people might make about her hair.

In the video, Leila tells her mother that a boy in school said he didn’t like her hair, "I said, 'I like it!'" she responded. “He said, ‘I don’t like that hair — it’s crazy.’ And I said, ‘My mommy made it. And if you don’t like it, I’ll keep it for myself,” she continued.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

UPS driver shares his weekly paycheck, and now everyone wants to apply

People are shocked to find out how much delivery drivers make.

@skylerleestutzman/TikTok

People were shocked to find out how much Skyler Stutzman earned as a UPS driver

People are seriously considering switching careers after finding out how much can be made as a UPS delivery driver.

Back in October, Skyler Stutzman, an Oregon-based UPS delivery driver went viral after sharing his weekly pay stub on TikTok.

In the clip, Stutzman showed that for 42 hours of work, and at a pay rate of $44.26 per hour, he earned $2,004 before taxes, and ultimately took home $1,300 after deductions.

This both shocked the nearly 12 million viewers who saw the video…not to mention it stirred their jealousy a bit.

Keep ReadingShow less

Saturday Night Live's fake Macy's ad is all too real for parents.

The holidays are supposed to be a magical and cozy time of joy and togetherness, when families gather for annual Christmas card photos and dress up for holiday events, with everything feeling merry and bright…right?

Tell that to parents trying to wrangle their little cherubs into scratchy sweaters, uncomfortable dress pants and inexplicably difficult-to-put-on snow boots.

The ideal vs. the reality of the holiday season is the premise of an Saturday Night Live spoof ad that aired in 2019 and is making the rounds on social media. It starts as a normal Macy's holiday sale commercial would—seriously merry and bright—then devolves into a hilarious representation of the behind-the-scenes reality parents deal with every year.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Gen X mom shares the revelations she got after her son gave her an ultimatum

If she didn't go to therapy, they would have no contact.

@fiftiesrediscovery/TikTok

One Gen X shares some amazing revelations she had in therapy

Not that long ago, the thought of adult children choosing estrangement from their parents would have been seen as fairly atypical, even if their parents engaged in toxic behavior. But now, many trauma-informed millennials and Gen Zers are going the low-to-no-contact route—as many as 25% of young adults, according to The Hill.

But even if it is becoming more common, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice to make. It often comes after multiple failed attempts to improve communication, set healthy boundaries and establish a healthy dynamic.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Taylor Skaff/Unsplash and Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

A Chevy Tahoe for $1? Not a bad deal at all.

The race to weave artificial intelligence into every aspect of our lives is on, and there are bound to be some hits and misses with the new technology, especially when some artificial intelligence apps are easily manipulated through a series of simple prompts.

A car dealership in Watsonville, California, just south of the Bay Area, added a chatbot to its website and learned the hard way that it should have done a bit more Q-A testing before launch.

It all started when Chris White, a musician and software engineer, went online to start looking for a new car. "I was looking at some Bolts on the Watsonville Chevy site, their little chat window came up, and I saw it was 'powered by ChatGPT,'" White told Business Insider.

ChatGPT is an AI language model that generates human-like text responses for diverse tasks, conversations and assistance. So, as a software engineer, he checked the chatbot’s limits to see how far he could get.

Keep ReadingShow less