From the American Surgical Association annual meeting.
When Dr. Paul Farmer says there should be a Global Fund for Surgery, people know he’s an expert on the “global” part. But surgery?
Dr. Farmer was one of the instigators behind the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a public-private partnership that’s now the main source of financing for programs to prevent and treat those diseases. His pioneering work in developing community-based treatment strategies in poor nations earned him a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 1993, and many awards since.
He was a founding director of Partners in Health, an international charity organization providing care to people who are sick and living in poverty in Haiti, Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. Farmer was the subject of the best-selling book in 2003 by author Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, and he’s written some of his own, including Pathologies of Power.
Here’s the thing — in all those limited-resource areas where it’s so difficult to get medical care, it’s even harder to get surgery. But Dr. Farmer has a “secret plan” for improving global access to surgery: focus on maternal mortality. The half-million women who die in childbirth each year largely die of “surgical disease” like postpartum infections and Cesarean-related problems, he says.
Before his speech to the American Surgical Society, Dr. Farmer chatted with me about his secret plan and how the issue of maternal mortality can bridge the artificial, historical gap between public health and clinical care, and get more people under the knife who need to go there. Take a listen:
Interview with Dr. Paul Farmer
—Sherry Boschert @sherryboschert