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One problem Farmer faced again and again in his work at the head of Partners in Health was the availability of funding for projects such as the health care center he was trying to build at Zanmi Lasante in Haiti. As Kidder observes, ". . .large foundations tended to finance narrowly focused compaigns against well-publicized diseased. None was likely to be interested in simply paying the bills, year after year. . . ." Many, maybe most, potential donors were there to provide a one time gift, or, such as in the case of the Gates Foundation, a grant to be distributed for a finite amount of time, perhaps a few years. What Farmer sought to do in Haiti was first, apply the "bandaid" by treating as many people as he could of whatever ailed them at the time, usually tuberculosis, sometimes AIDS, and then address the poor living conditions that created the root of the problem by providing cleaner homes and flooring, for example, decreasing or ending the conditions that made families vulnerable to diseases like TB, as well as providing sound preventive healthcare--through the center at Zanmi Lasante, for example. His holistic approach, while sound, was (is) expensive, and unsuited to the traditional philanthropic approach where a onetime grant, fund or donation is the rule rather than the exception.
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