Paul Farmer, the health care and human rights pioneer who co-founded Partners in Health, is officially out of the running to lead USAID. The news, which we have officially confirmed after a swirl of rumors yesterday, is a major blow to those who were hoping Farmer would have used that government post to drive needed attention and resources to global HIV/AIDS and TB, at a time when both seem to be getting short-shrift.
Farmer could have also brought vigor and innovation to an agency adrift and as someone who has worked extensively in the developing world, provided unique insights to Congress as lawmakers begin the task of foreign aid reform.
It’s unclear why Farmer is no longer under consideration—if it was his decision or the administration’s. Either way, it throws a wrench into a process that has already dragged on for too long. We hope as the Obama Administration looks for another candidate, they settle on a candidate who understands the threat that HIV and TB pose to the developing world and who will make those two deadly infectious diseases a priority when it comes to development assistance.