Partners In Health Establishes $200M Paul E. Farmer Scholarship Fund for UGHE to Educate Health Care Leaders

The fund will support students attending PIH’s University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda and help fulfill Farmer’s mission to educate the next generation of global health leaders.

Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announces a $50 million gift to the Paul E. Farmer Scholarship on Sept. 19 at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, alongside University of Global Health Equity Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (left) and Partners In Health CEO Dr. Sheila Davis (right). Photo by Francesco De Flaviis/PIH

New York City (September 19, 2022) – Partners In Health (PIH) announced plans for a $200 million scholarship fund for students attending the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda, as part of a $92 million catalytic commitment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CRI Foundation, and other donors.

The Paul E. Farmer Scholarship Fund was announced on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative by Partners In Health CEO Dr. Sheila Davis, UGHE Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, and Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of her remarks, French Gates announced a $50 million commitment to the fund.

“Everyone everywhere deserves quality medical care,” French Gates said. “Providing women equal access to medical careers and opportunities to lead is critical to making meaningful progress in global health. UGHE’s work to develop new generations of African doctors who deeply understand the communities they’ll serve will enhance care from high-tech surgical suites to rural homes.”

The fund will cover the tuition, room, board, and expenses of 3,000 medical students and global health delivery degree candidates over the next 25 years. It is named in honor of PIH Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer, who passed away in February while teaching at UGHE.

Located in a rural community in northern Rwanda, UGHE has a unique focus on the structural forces that influence whether a person is healthy or ill, pairing education in the humanities with rigorous, community based medical training.

“We are proud to build upon Paul’s remarkable legacy with this scholarship fund for UGHE, a revolutionary embodiment of our core values and mission and one that Paul deeply believed in,” said Dr. Davis. “The fund will help train the next generation of changemakers and leaders who will create more equitable, quality health systems in Rwanda and around the world.”

“Turning early dreams of UGHE into reality has been intense and remarkable and deeply satisfying,” said Dr. Binagwaho. “Seeing our seventh cohort of Master students in caps and gowns this summer was very exciting and knowing that thanks in part to this fund, the university

will continue for decades, to graduate, passionate, principled, world-class health leaders the world needs is even more exciting.”

UGHE admissions are transparent, equity based, and highly selective. Roughly six percent of applicants are accepted. At UGHE, the majority female student body learns practical approaches to delivering health care in impoverished settings. Half of graduates go on to work directly with rural communities, women and girls, or other vulnerable populations.

PIH launched UGHE in 2015 with the support of the Cummings Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Government of Rwanda. The campus sits next to PIH-supported Butaro District Hospital, the first district-level teaching hospital in the country.

UGHE and the hospital are accelerating collective efforts to increase the number of health care workers in Rwanda and around the world. At the current pace of growth, it will take three decades for the global health workforce to expand enough to meet people’s basic health needs, according to the World Health Organization.

UGHE’s neighboring hospital is currently expanding, in part to allow some 200 UGHE medical students to perform their clinical rotations each year. The new wings will almost double the number of beds (to 256 total) and the facility’s capacity for surgery, oncology, and imagery.

Additionally, UGHE includes an innovative clinical simulation center, fully equipped laboratory spaces, and teleconferencing facilities for remote instruction by leading clinicians.