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St. Petersburg Times Examines Work of Paul Farmer, Potential Candidate For USAID, State Department Position

The St. Petersburg Times examines the work of Paul Farmer – “the Harvard-educated doctor who, starting in Haiti, built a multinational organization on the radical idea that poor patients deserve the same care as rich ones” and is reportedly being considered for a high-level job with USAID or the State Department. The newspaper reports that though it’s “not a sure thing, even his candidacy indicates how far the international aid establishment has come around to Farmer’s way of thinking, health care experts say.”

The St. Petersburg Times writes, “Some consider Farmer a perfect fit for the job because his organization’s approach to aid has been almost as broadly based as the federal government’s, addressing contaminated water, inadequate shelter and other maladies that contribute to disease.” Veteran USAID staffers would welcome Farmer’s “effective inspirational leadership,” Kenneth Mayer, a professor at Brown University and an adviser to the Center for Global Health Policy and Advocacy, said.

USAID has “become this lumbering bureaucracy that subcontracts its work out to these big nongovernmental organizations … and it’s lost sight of its core values,” Gregg Gonsalves, a health care advocate with the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. Matthew Kavanaugh of Health GAP said that giving Farmer a role in U.S. global health would indicated that President Obama “is very serious about taking U.S. foreign aid in a new, smart, very bold direction.” (DeWitt, St. Petersburg Times, 6/6).