Paul Farmer, a modern-day Albert Schweitzer and giant of public health, who dedicated his life to bringing health care to the world’s poorest peoples in places like Haiti, Rwanda and Peru, has died at 62. He was described as “a compassionate physician and infectious disease specialist, a brilliant and influential medical anthropologist, and among the greatest humanitarians of our time – perhaps all time.” He was instrumental in getting Aids and Ebola treatments to people in poor nations, and created various health systems around the world, including during the recent pandemic. He died of a heart attack in Rwanda.
He was born 26 October 1959 7.59am North Adams, Massachusetts, with an unconventional school teacher father who housed the six children family at one point in a retrofitted bus. He said “When we were growing up in the campground, we were all sort of embarrassed by it, but I think all of us now feel grateful to my parents for having liberated us from middle-class expectations.”
He first travelled to Haiti, as a volunteer as he embarked on his studies at Harvard Medical School and in later years he founded a network of 15 clinics and hospitals that now serve more than 1.3 million people in the most remote reaches of the country. His work there expanded into the global mission of Partners in Health, which today works in a dozen locations across Africa, Central Asia, Latin America and the United States.
What is intriguing is how he turned what otherwise could have been a tricky chart to good use. He had a behind-the-scenes Sun, Mars, Neptune in Scorpio on the focal point of a mini-Grand Trine to an influential Pluto on his Midheaven trine Saturn in Capricorn. Mars can be vengeful in Scorpio and beside the Sun and Neptune doesn’t always turn out to be saintly. He managed to get hold of the healing and ultra-determined, miracle-maker Scorpio end of it. Pluto on the Midheaven can produce control-freaks which he may well have been but with the best of motives and outcomes. Saturn trine Pluto is hard and stubborn; sextile Mars could be cruel. But he focused all that dark energy into doing good and shining a light where there had been none before.
He did have a 1st house Jupiter in upbeat Sagittarius would would help with encouraging and motivating. Though again it was in a pushily-confident square to Pluto which can be rule-breaking and arrogant – and again managed to find the better end of it to achieve the impossible.
He had a notable 17th Harmonic, hinting at the legacy he left for future generations; and a global influencer 11H. As well as a humanitarian 9th Harmonic which can in the wrong hands be less than honest but he found his pleasures in giving not taking.
An extraordinary man.