Partners in Health’s Dr. Paul Farmer

(Community Matters) I was struck by Paul Farmer’s humility, personification of servant leadership, and that he travels all over the world with a theologian, his advisor.

This Foreign Affairs article: Partners in Help: Assisting the Poor Over the Long Term on “accompaniment” should inform all social initiatives, perhaps political as well. Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the Latin origin of the word means breaking bread together.

Accompaniment is both an objective that is set at the beginning of a task and a mode of follow-through. My lesson, in a nutshell, is that the great failures of policy and governance usually result from failures of implementation, and accompaniment is good insurance against such failures.  

Application in policy – only 1% of $2.3B in international relief aid (direct aid, not reconstruction) went to the Haitian government. Paul notes that “the international humanitarian effort could have done more to accompany the local authorities in charge of direct relief and reconstruction.” Paul’s concept of accompaniment seems in imply that there’s always a partnership, so less risk of corruption and waste. He cites as an example a Red Cross’ $3.8mm grant for performance-based salary enhancement at the Port au Prince general hospital.

If the biggest failures in the policy world concern implementation or delivery, the second-biggest cause of failure is that programs are too often stovepiped, even though the problems they seek to address — health and illiteracy, for example — are tightly interwoven.

When the iron cage of rationality leads to a poverty of imagination, cynicism and disengagement follow.

thanks to Doug Ulman I was lucky to spend time yesterday with Partners in Health Founder, Paul Farmer. Of course I am very familiar PiH, one of the Entrepreneurs Foundation’s 3 main partners in Haiti. In July 2010, I toured parts of Haiti and many PiH facilities with one of their 3 in-country US executives. They employ over 4,000 Haitians – takes a lot of hands to accompany the millions of Haiti’s poor they serve.

Paul was in town as the keynote for the Students of the World Gala, hosted by Roy & Mary Spence. The organization was founded by Courtney Spence.

One response to “Partners in Health’s Dr. Paul Farmer

  1. Pingback: PiH’s Paul Famer at LIVESTRONG | Community Matters

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