The body of late Dr Paul Farmer, founder of University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) and co-founder of Partners in Health (PIH), was on Thursday, February 24, repatriated to his native United States following a private final farewell ceremony that was held in Kigali.
President Paul Kagame alongside First Lady Jeannette Kagame joined his widow, Dr Didi Bertrand Farmer, and family as well as friends and colleagues of the deceased to grieve the "immeasurable global impact of his life".
His body left Kigali International Airport Thursday night.
Farmer, described by many around the world as a global health icon, breathed his last early this week on February 21, 'peacefully' in his bed, according to a tribute.
In Rwanda, he was affectionately referred to as 'Muganga Mwiza' (the good doctor), an attribute from his life-long humanitarian activities.
"Muganga mwiza' was a dear friend to many," First Lady Jeannette Kagame tweeted. "He leaves a bottomless hole in too many people's hearts; a hole as big as his love for all and every human."
"His legacy lives on. May his soul Rest In Peace," she added.
This evening, President Paul Kagame and First Lady Mrs Kagame joined family and friends of Dr Paul Farmer for a private final farewell.
— First Lady of Rwanda (@FirstLadyRwanda) February 24, 2022
For nearly two decades, the 62 year old had been involved in Rwanda's public health care in multiple capacities including curbing maternal and related mortalities, physician training and medical research.
Among his flagship initiatives include Partners in Health, locally known as 'Inshuti mu Buzima' in Rwanda, which helps the country in efforts to achieve health targets, including maternal mortality, access to primary healthcare, increasing physician to patient ratio, among others.
The initiative also works with several institutions to provide high quality medical care in three hospitals, including Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence, based in Burera District.
Other facilities run by the organisation include Rwinkwavu Hospital and another one in Kirehe District.
Farmer has often been termed as a friend of Rwanda and was in 2017 awarded the National Order of Outstanding Friendship by President Paul Kagame.
Who's Dr Paul Farmer?
Farmer was the founder of UGHE, which aims at training the next generation of global health professionals committed to providing equitable healthcare for all in Africa and beyond, with a focus on the most vulnerable.
In August 2021, the university established the African Advisory Board, co-chaired by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame, which aims at making more effective regional efforts to improve the quality and quantity of the healthcare workforce and delivery, to guide the way forward for the institution's strategic development and build healthcare systems in Africa and other parts of the world.
Farmer was recognised across different countries for his multiple health initiatives.
For instance, in May 2009, he was named Chair of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.
In December 2012, Farmer was appointed as the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.
His works also extended to being the Editor-in-Chief of the Health and Human Rights Journal.
He is survived by his wife and three children.