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...
Apr 26, 2012

Childhood Malnutrition in Haiti - Apr. 2012 Update

Zanmi Agrikol: Fighting Pediatric Malnutrition in Haiti

In Haiti, the prevalence of malnutrition rates among children is tragic: according to the World Bank, nearly one-third of all children under five suffer from stunted growth and three-quarters of children 6-24 months are anemic, making Haiti’s malnutrition rates among the worst in the Latin American and Caribbean region.[1] The prevalence of malnutrition among children is especially troubling in rural Haiti. At our clinics, almost all of which are in rural areas, malnutrition accounts for 30-40% of all pediatric visits, and up to 50% during certain times of the year. Malnourished children are at risk for disease and death; prolonged malnourishment can lead to cognitive and physical delays in development.[2]

In response to this widespread need, PIH/ZL has developed an elegant solution that leverages local resources to treat the thousands of malnourished children who present at our clinics throughout the year. Zanmi Agrikol (“Partners In Agriculture”) is PIH/ZL’s broad-based nutrition program that encourages the local production of crops and uses them in the production of ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment for pediatric malnutrition. Zanmi Agrikol has three main components:

1)      Local production of Nourimanba for the treatment of malnutrition

Children who come to our clinics suffering from severe malnutrition are given Nourimanba, a ready-to-use therapeutic food made of five simple ingredients: locally-sourced peanuts, milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar, and a specially formulated vitamin mix. This highly nutritional treatment leads to dramatic clinical improvements, bringing children back to full health in a few short weeks. Because treatment with Nourimanba can be administered by parents in the home, children are spared long stays in the hospital.

2)      Locally sourcing Nourimanba ingredients

When PIH/ZL first recognized the success of Nourimanba in combating childhood malnutrition, we also saw a unique opportunity to increase the livelihoods of local farming families. To this end, we operate a 35-acre production farm in Corporant to grow the main ingredient of Nourimanba– peanuts. ZL employs farmers at the Corporant farm for various lengths of time depending on need. We also contract with local farmers to grow peanuts, which we purchase for use in producing Nourimanba.

Two elements make this arrangement particularly sustainable and beneficial to local farmers. First, the program includes a seed bank that provides the initial peanut inputs for local farmers, many of whom lack the initial capital to purchase seeds. After their first harvest, the farmers then return an equivalent amount of seeds at the end of the growing season, ensuring that the seed bank will be able to continue to provide seed to future farmers. Second, this arrangement provides the farmers with much-needed capital on a predictable schedule and in sufficient quantity to enable them to invest in new tools, land, and other inputs, which they are typically not able to do if they are selling their crops piecemeal on the local market.

3)      Breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition by providing agricultural assistance and training to vulnerable families

The final component of Zanmi Agrikol works to break the cycle of poverty that leads to such high rates of childhood malnutrition on rural Haiti to begin with. To improve long-term food security for some of the most vulnerable families we encounter in the malnutrition program, PIH/ZL provides seeds, tools, goats, trees and agricultural training through an initiative called the Family Assistance Program. Families most in need are identified by ZL clinicians and social workers for enrollment in the program. We provide seeds and tools to the families for use on their lands; occasionally we have also helped rent land for families. The families grow food for subsistence or for market, and keep any profits that result. In addition, families receive a female goat, which then serves as the equivalent of a bank account, meaning that offspring or the goat can be raised and sold at market when a household is in need of cash. 

Ongoing, individualized support and training to participating families is provided through ajan agrikol, community members who are trained by ZL agronomists to work directly with farming families on their own land. Recognizing that local farmers often have the wisdom and knowledge necessary to improve their yield, but have simply lacked the income and tools to do so, ajan agrikol enter into dialogue with each family in order to best understand their particular circumstances and determine what form of intervention will be most effective. Each ajan agrikol is responsible for visiting 10-15 families in their fields once every two weeks but often visit weekly during the rainy season.

In addition to ongoing support from ajan agrikol, families receive training through Zanmi Lasante agronomists, who train the families in better farming practices, soil conservation, tree conservation, how to farm on sloped terrain in order to maximize water distribution and minimize erosion, and how to build tools that measure the steepness of terrain and identify prime areas for farming. These trainings not only increase farmers’ skills but also help them develop farming methods that are environmentally friendly.



[1] World Bank, Promoting Nutrition Security in Haiti: An Assessment of Pre- and Post-Earthquake Conditions and Recommendations for the Way Forward, September 2010, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NUTRITION/Resources/HaitiNutritionAssessmentEnglishFINAL.pdf, p. 2.

[2] Ibid., p. 3. 

Apr 13, 2012

Build Mirebalais Hospital - April 2012 Update

Photos courtesy of Haiti Libre
Photos courtesy of Haiti Libre

The following article was published in Haiti Libre on March 29, 2012: 

Haiti - Health : President Martelly in Mirebalais to see the progress of work of the University Hospital

The President Michel Martelly, accompanied, among others, of Mrs. Florence D. Guillaume, Minister of Public Health and Population and of the Senator Edmonde Supplice Beauzile (Center), conducted yesterday Wednesday, a visit to Mirebalais where he assessed the progress of construction work of the University Hospital of this city.

At a cost estimated to $16 million, the University Hospital of Mirebalais, will accommodate over 500 patients per day with a total of 324 beds, of about 20 consultation rooms in outpatient clinics, 6 operating rooms and a space to receive and train 140 students and resident physicians. The Minister Florence D. Guillaume stated that this modern hospital is the result of a public/private partnership. Property of the Haitian State since the land on which it is built (16.725 m2) to equipment which it is provided, this hospital will be managed jointly by Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante (PIH/ZL) nd the Ministry of Public Health and Population. It will operate on the principle of free health care and in strict compliance with the Minimum Package of Services.

The President Martelly congratulated the responsible of Zanmi Lasante and other partners who have contributed to the achievement of such a project and reiterated its commitment to provide services of free health care and of quality to the benefit of all Haitians indiscriminately... "Decentralization must be effective everywhere," remains convinced the President Martelly who plans to work on the structuring and the modernization of health facilities through the ten departments of country. He said he was ready to initiate discussions with relevant authorities to consider a fund that could allow the construction of at least one modern hospital in every department of the country during his tenure.

 

Was present during the visit of the Head of State: Cuban Ambassador to Haiti, Ricardo Garcia, personalities like Dr. Paul Farmer, the Reverend Father Fritz Lafontant, Dr. Max Raymonville and Dr. David Walton, all members of the Executive Directory of the NGO Zanmi Lasante, the Deputy for the constituency of Mirebalais/Boucan-Carré and the President of the Health Commission in the Lower House, Sinal Bertrand, the Departmental Delegate and the Mayor of Mirebalais, Jean Rodney Amboise.

Apr 13, 2012

Equip Mirebalais Hospital - April 2012 update

Paul Farmer & President Clinton at Mirebalais
Paul Farmer & President Clinton at Mirebalais

Clinton visits Mirebalais Hospital

On Wednesday, March 7, former U.S. President Bill Clinton was in Haiti to highlight the potential impact solar power could have in a country rich in sun but lacking in electrical infrastructure.

As part of his trip, President Clinton, Dr. Paul Farmer, and leaders in the field of renewable energy visited PIH’s flagship Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital. Delegates toured the 320-bed, state-of-the-art medical facility, which – when it opens in mid-2012 – will be powered by a field of solar panels lining the 180,000 sq ft facility’s roof. President Clinton singled out the project as a model of what is possible in Haiti – a country still in the early stages of rebuilding after the massive damage of the 2010 earthquake.

After leaving Mirebalais Hospital, the group visited other PIH facilities that also rely on solar energy, including Centre de St Michel in Boucan Carre, the first PIH-supported clinic powered to receive solar panels, an achievement made possible through PIH's partnership with Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).

Delegates also saw the recently installed solar panels powering PIH’s Lashto fish farm, a tilapia-growing facility that provides both food and income to a once-impoverished community. Concluding their tour of Central Haiti, the group visited Domond Ecole Bon Berg, one of 19 schools in the area powered by solar energy – the product of a partnership between NRG, a major U.S. producer of green energy, SELF, and PIH.

This trip provided President Clinton, acting in his role as UN Special Envoy to Haiti, the opportunity to discuss viable business opportunities in Haiti with representatives of the renewable energy industry.

The large-scale introduction of solar power in Haiti would significantly reduce the country’s high energy costs, while potentially making electricity available to a far greater number of people. Only 38.5 percent of Haitian households currently have regular access to electricity according to the World Bank – by far the lowest rate of access in the Western Hemisphere. 

Learn more about PIH's work in Haiti

Frames for the solar panels on the roof
Frames for the solar panels on the roof

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