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a877: One man's work to save world--a bit old but interesting (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

San Carlos presentation reflects one man's work to
save world


Key West, FL, Jan. 14 - Dr. Paul Farmer spends much of
his time on a Caribbean island just 90 miles from
Cuba, but that is where the similarity between Key
West and the grossly-impoverished Central Plateau
region of Haiti ends.

     But "the good doctor," as Farmer is referred to
in a profile that appeared last year in the New
Yorker, will hop islands this month, and will be
giving a presentation at the San Carlos Institute
about his worldwide work with AIDS and tuberculosis in
areas where medicines are considered luxuries and hope
is considered unrealistic.

     "But the fact that the poor are dying of
illnesses for which effective treatments exist is,
like many global facts of life, unacceptable to
Farmer," wrote Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder in
the New Yorker profile.

     "Dokté Paul," finished Harvard Medical School in
1990, but had long been working to develop a medical
complex in Cange, Haiti, now known as Zanmi Lasante --
Creole for Partners in Health, the Massachusetts-based
umbrella agency that also provides doctors and
medicines to parts of Peru, Mexico, Cambodia and

     Farmer's experiences are extensive and his
insights into the workings of global policies often
irreverent. But his numbers tell a remarkable story.

     The transmission rate of AIDS from mothers to
babies has dwindled to 4 percent in the population
area served by Zanmi Lasante. In the United States,
that rate still hovers around 8 percent, Kidder said.

     "In Haiti, tuberculosis kills more adults than
any other disease, but no one from [Zanmi Lasante's
service area] has died from it since 1988," the New
Yorker article continued.

     Kidder writes about a flight he was on with
Farmer as they departed Haiti, bound for Cuba for a
conference about AIDS:

     "Leaving Haiti, Farmer didn't stare down through
the airplane window at that brown and barren third of
an island.

     "It bothers me even to look at it," he explained,
glancing out. "It can't support eight million people,
and there they are. There they are, kidnapped from
West Africa."

     Farmer spends days and nights traveling to
suffering countries and addressing needs, and when not
meeting needs, he is in meetings with governments and
world health organizations to argue for ways needs can
be met.

     Barely religious, Farmer told Kidder he clings to
Catholicism by a thread.

     "I'm still looking for something in the sacred
texts that prohibits using condoms," he told Kidder
for the New Yorker.

     Farmer's concept that lifestyles don't cause
infections, poverty does, is one he says he will
preach until his voice disappears. And the deadly
double-teaming of tuberculosis in an HIV-person is
making Partners in Health doctors work double time to
cure one and treat the other.

     At his slide presentations, Farmer shows
audiences the results of donations and medicine, and
shows a photograph of a child -- "a child who did not
want to be declared cost-ineffective," Farmer told
Kidder and an audience in South Carolina.

     Key West resident and Pulitzer Prize-winning
author Annie Dillard was in one such audience about 18
months ago in Cape Cod.

     Stuffed in a small room in a New England library,
Dillard listened in utter amazement of Farmer's toils
after having just read the New Yorker profile.

     She remembers the presentation vividly, but
laughed, embarrassed, admitting that Farmer recognized
her name from a check she eventually wrote in donation
to Partners in Health.

     Farmer, it became clear, was a fan of Dillard's
and enclosed a book of his own with a personal thank
you for her donation.

     Through a long series of lost correspondences and
elusive e-mail addresses, Dillard arranged for Farmer
to visit Key West as a brief respite from his travels.

     While here, he will give a free presentation at
the San Carlos Institute and plans to spend the rest
of the two days cloistered in a hotel room writing
grant proposals, Dillard said Saturday, sitting in her
Key West kitchen with a Diet Coke.

     "We're not going to pass the hat," Dillard said,
emphasizing that the presentation is not a
fund-raiser, but an opportunity to hear about one
man's work to change the world.


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