Partners In Health (PIH)

Our mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners In Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair. We draw on the resources of the world's leading medical and academic institutions and on the lived experience of the world's poorest and sickest communities. At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When our patients are ill and have no access to care, our team of health professi...
Jun 30, 2014

Childhood Malnutrition in Haiti - June 2014 Update

(Above) Cange, Haiti, A child suffering from malnutrition at the pediatric inpatient unit in Cange is fed  nourimanba by his mother.   Credit: Rebecca Rollins/PIH

 

While visiting patients in a rural village, a Partners In Health (PIH) community health worker spotted 14-month-old Lovena. Little Lovena had diarrhea, she was weak, and she had no appetite. With the encouragement of the health worker, her parents brought her to a PIH hospital. Her diagnosis was malnutrition.

This story is all too common. Malnutrition is a terrible disease that afflicts children in Haiti and around the world. It is a disease that stems from extreme poverty, but it is treatable and preventable. Thanks to your generous support, we are able to provide that treatment free of charge to children like Lovena. 

Lovena’s parents, who were very poor and lived about a two-hour walk from the hospital, didn’t understand the source of her sickness. It was severe acute malnutrition, caused by a shortage of the nutritious food toddlers require to grow up healthy. To help her recover quickly, we immediately provided Lovena with a ready-to-use locally produced therapeutic peanut butter packed with micronutrients, which we call Nourimanba.

She returned many times to the hospital to ensure she was healthy and growing. Recently, a doctor saw her for a simple cold and reported that she is now a healthy, active toddler. Without the treatment for malnutrition that Partners In Health provided, a simple cold could have easily killed her.

The prevalence of malnutrition in children around the world is unacceptable. It accounts for nearly half of all the deaths of children under 5 years old, which makes up a staggering 3 million deaths each year—or more than 8,000 every day.
These numbers are proof that we must do more to fight this needless suffering. Malnutrition is a sickness of poverty, and the children who are most affected often live in the most rural areas—far from health services and sources of steady
employment.

When I visit clinics in rural Haiti, up to half of the children I see are malnourished, placing them at much greater risk for other illnesses and even death. The effects, even if the child survives, can be long-term. Prolonged malnourishment can lead to cognitive and physical delays in development that make children less productive for the rest of their lives. These
setbacks make them less able to care for their own children, passing on the joint injustices of malnutrition and poverty.

With your help, Partners In Health has been fighting this disease in Haiti and in other countries we work to support. We’ve made great progress in the areas we serve, by using this simple innovation: therapeutic peanut butter packed with
micronutrients that we produce locally, to treat malnutrition effectively in clinics and in children’s homes. And we don’t stop at clinical care. In Haiti, we work with farmers to provide them with seeds and training to grow the peanuts for the Nourimanba peanut butter. Then, Partners In Health employs people to make the paste—a mixture of five
ingredients: peanuts, milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar, and vitamins. The product doesn’t require refrigeration and resists spoiling—making it the perfect treatment for children to take home with them to continue their recovery.

To save more lives, Partners In Health is scaling up production of Nourimanba in the same area our clinics serve in Haiti. Local production creates jobs, which helps the economy and prevents malnutrition.

Despite tremendous progress, we have more work to do. Partners In Health has committed to eliminating deaths of children under 5 years old from malnutrition in the areas we serve. This challenge will require reaching more of the most vulnerable families. It will require training more community health workers to identify children at risk, help
parents prevent malnutrition, and provide follow-up care in children’s homes. And it will require producing and distributing more therapeutic Nourimanba.  We hope that you continue to stand alongside us as we do whatever it takes to tackle this preventable illness. 

Thank you again for your support, 

Dr. Joia Mukherjee
Chief Medical Officer
Partners In Health

Jun 12, 2014

Support children in Malawi - June 2011 Update

With your support, PIH/Malawi—Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU) can provide the necessary resources for children like Annie and Mary to attend school, where they develop the skills that can ultimately lift them out of poverty.  Thank you for your generosity and for making this work possible. 

Annie and Mary, classmates in Form 2 at Chifunga Day School Secondary School, in Lower Neno, are both recipients of POSER school support. They are from farming families whose livelihood comes from maize and groundnuts and have 5 and 6 other siblings. They are both only able to be in secondary school because of POSER’s involvement in their lives. As Annie says, “In my family there are [currently] three children in secondary school, so it would be very hard for my parents to pay school fees for me.” Mary notes that it is helpful not only to have fees the paid, but also to receive materials. 

They both aspire to become nurses at university after completing secondary school in Chifunga, where Biology and Physical Sciences are favorite subjects. Mary explains that “I work hard at school … so that I can assist patients.” 

Jun 4, 2014

PIH Cholera Response in Haiti - June 2014 Update

We are so grateful for your support of Partners In Health and our work to prevent and treat cholera in Haiti. We are pleased to share a brief update around some of the current successes and challenges that our colleagues are seeing on the ground in Haiti.  

Since January, the number of cholera cases and fatalities have decreased across PIH's 11 facilities in Haiti, but the epidemic continues to sicken thousands across the country, hitting the most vulnerable populations the hardest--like malnourished children who have low immunity. With rainy season quickly approaching, the need for basic treatment and prevention tools has never been greater.  

Below is an excerpt from a New York Times article authored by Randal C. Archibold and Somini Sengupta, discussing the current situation in Haiti, and citing examples of how PIH's approach is working: 

 

The United Nations raised barely a fourth of the $38 million it needed last year to provide lifesaving supplies, including the most basic, like water purification tablets. Clinics have run short of oral rehydration salts to treat the debilitating diarrhea that accompanies the disease. Some treatment centers in the countryside have shut down as the aid groups that ran them have moved on to other crises. And a growing share of patients are dying after they finally reach hospitals, according to the United Nations’ own assessments.

Josilia Fils-Aime, 11, who lives in this village on an isolated spit of land near the Artibonite River, where the epidemic first began, knows these shortcomings all too well. Her family had run out of water purification tablets, and she drank water from what must have been a polluted stream nearby.

“I felt dizzy and sick,” the girl said. She was struck by sudden vomiting and diarrhea. Doctors diagnosed cholera.

Her predicament has multiplied across Haiti, which has had the most cholera cases in the world for three years in a row.

The United Nations has yet to raise the $5 million necessary to vaccinate 600,000 vulnerable people right away — as the rainy season approaches and the threat of waterborne illnesses like cholera looms — let alone the $2 billion that it promised to raise from rich countries to build Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure, which public health experts say is vital to ridding the country of cholera.

Pedro Medrano Rojas, the United Nations secretary general’s newly appointed envoy for the cholera outbreak, attributed the shortfall to global “donor fatigue” in the face of other humanitarian crises.

“Had we had the resources it would have been different,” Mr. Medrano said. “It’s not expensive. No one should be dying from cholera.”

Since the outbreak began in October 2010, 8,562 people in Haiti have died of cholera. New infections have declined, following the typical trajectory of an epidemic, from a peak of more than 350,000 reported cases in 2011 to a little more than 50,000 cases in 2013.

The United Nations is essential to solving the problem because, like many of the country’s institutions since the January 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s own health care system remains in shambles. Clean drinking water and sanitation remain as scarce as when the epidemic began. And where international nonprofit groups, along with the government, once operated 120 cholera treatment centers across the nation, the number has shrunk to barely 40 as aid groups have pulled out.

Perhaps that most troubling measure of all is the rising percentage of cholera patients who die in the treatment facilities that remain. As the United Nations mission said in its report to the Security Council in March, “That reflects weaknesses in the capacity of health centers to provide timely and adequate health services to patients affected by cholera and the longer travel time required for treatment as a result of the closure of many cholera treatment centers.”

Josilia Fils-Aime, for instance, most likely survived because Partners in Health, a nonprofit that has worked in Haiti for years, opened a satellite clinic near her home. The next closest cholera treatment center would have required a two-hour trek, including a boat ride.

“In any other country, you would declare it a humanitarian disaster,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, a health policy adviser for Partners in Health. “What’s going to happen when the rainy season starts?”

By Mr. Medrano’s estimates, as many as 40,000 people could become infected once the clouds break and the rivers swell.

Haiti’s cholera outbreak has spread to three countries across the region: the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico. The fatality rates have been much lower in those countries, which have far better public health systems; it is a measure of how easy it can be to treat the disease.

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