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...
Feb 10, 2014

Support children in Malawi - Feb. 2014 Update

Thank you for contributing to Partners In Health's Support school costs for children in rural Malawi project on Global Giving. I encourage you to take a minute to read this brief story about a beneficiary of the program -- Chifunilo.  With your help, we are providing the basic tools and resources for children like Chifunilo to succeed, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and disease, one community at a time. 

Chifunilo lives in rural Lumbe village with his four younger siblings and grandmother. At 17 years old, he is in Form 2 and says “without POSER’s support, I wouldn’t be in school at this time.”  He has been receiving support from POSER for three years – since Standard 8 – and all of his siblings are also beneficiaries. This assistance is critical for the family, because as Chifunilo says “even to get soap my family had to do piecework. My grandmother relies on farming, but it is difficult because she is aging. After school we go to the garden to help her.” However, with support, Chifunilo is doing well in school and is thinking about his future. His favorite subjects are Geography, English, and Mathematics, because with Geography “I know about the location of other places, other countries, and about their natural resources.” With good math skills, he knows it “will make it easy for me to be an accountant or to work in the bank.” One day, he “would like to work in an office, especially to work on a computer… I am dreaming of work[ing] in an office like this one. I would like to do the job you are doing yourself, because you are helping us.”

POSER reaches 2,000 vulnerable children in the district each year through its school support initiative. 200 of these are secondary school students, like Chifunilo.  These students, in addition to the fee payments to their schools, also receive uniforms, math instruments, rulers, notebooks, and pens. Staff members also build strong connections with the students to support their psychosocial health and provide mentorship and support.

APZU will continue to welcome donations to cover the costs of school fees and materials for secondary school students. Zikomo kwambiri to everyone who has supported this project! You are helping to make a critical difference for children in Neno. 

Feb 7, 2014

Equip University Hospital - Feb. 2014 Update

Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health
Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health
Thank you for supporting Partners In Health and our Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante.  Your generosity gives us the resources that we need at University Hospital in Mirebalais to provide quality care to cancer patients -- from chemotherapy to surgery supplies to pain medication.  We are excited to share the story of our first cancer patient, Isemélie, as well as some additional information on the services that we have been able to expand in Haiti thanks to your donation. 

Cancer Care Expands at University Hospital

Isemélie was the first patient at Haiti’s University Hospital to undergo surgery—a mastectomy to treat her breast cancer—and now her chemotherapy is almost complete.

Before her surgery in May, Isemélie was worried for her life. With the surgery, chemotherapy, and counseling, she and her family have hope that she can recover. Isemélie has just one more infusion. “I am looking forward to finishing chemotherapy so I can start working again to help my daughter pay for university,” she said.

This summer, PIH and our Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), transitioned oncology services from a crowded, inadequate space in Cange to University Hospital in Mirebalais, where more patients can receive cancer prevention, treatment, and education efforts that are integrated with other services at the hospital.

Between July and November, the cancer care team provided services to about 700 patients, illustrating a huge demand for cancer care in Haiti.

Despite the perception that cancer only affects people in wealthy countries, cancer actually causes more deaths in low- and middle-income countries. And while about 80 percent of the global burden of cancer is born by people in the developing world, just 5 percent of the world’s expenditures on cancer care happen there.

Partners In Health has been working to save lives and demonstrate that the disease is treatable in poor, rural areas.

PIH/ZL is the only provider of free oncology services in Haiti. While PIH/ZL has always cared for cancer patients, even with limited capacity for treatment, an interdisciplinary team has worked over the last three years to formalize and integrate services for patients with cancer while building their skills through training.

The move to University Hospital has allowed the cancer care team to treat more patients; the demand has shown the need for more cancer care across Haiti. Between July and September, most patients—64 percent—came from the Port-au-Prince area, and only 22 percent from central Haiti, many referred by PIH/ZL clinics or other providers.

In the same period, breast cancer was the most common diagnosis for oncology patients, at 40 percent, followed by cervical cancer, at 12 percent, according to data from University Hospital’s electronic medical record system.

The cancer care team, headed by Haitian oncology director Dr. Ruth Damuse, has worked hard to provide comprehensive care for cancer patients. Their work has been supported by partners including the Avon Foundation, the LIVESTRONG Foundation, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which helps develop treatment plans for PIH/ZL patients. The DFCI has also created a special fellowship enabling expert oncology nurses from Boston to work at the hospital in three-month rotations and train staff on administration of chemotherapy and wound care. 

Cancer care at University Hospital addresses  the many needs of  patients, including:

  • Cancer screening, including biopsies and pathological testing
  • Surgery and post-surgical wound care
  • Intravenous chemotherapy in designated beds and chairs for infusion
  • Oral chemotherapy
  • One-on-one counseling and support groups to help patients cope with their cancer diagnoses and treatment side effects
  • Referrals to a partner hospital in the Dominican Republic for radiation therapy
  • Education on cancer, including breast self-exams and community awareness events to encourage people to seek care early
  • Palliative care

Oncology social worker Oldine Deshommes described one patient’s experience with breast cancer:

“The first time I saw Mrs. A, she was crying. She felt humiliated because of her cancer. Her wound was infected and had a bad smell. She said even though she was not yet dead, she was ashamed to sit near others.

We talked about how she should not feel excluded from others, showing her that she is not responsible for her illness. We also talked about what she can do to get healthy; reminding her that she is not alone, that we are with her in this fight.

In our group sessions she talked about how she felt before coming to the support group. She actively participates in the groups, and it helps her see that she is not alone in experiencing changes to her life from cancer. She said she no longer feels lonely and she has made friends from the support group who encourage her.”

With support from Deshommes, Isemélie was able to delay her last round of chemo a couple of weeks, until January. She wanted to feel well for her daughter’s wedding.

Feb 5, 2014

Haiti Earthquake Recovery - Feb 2014 Update

Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health
Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health
(above) A 24-year-old patient rests with her baby boy on the day following her cesarean section in July at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. University Hospital doctors and nurses have delivered more than 800 babies in less than a year of operation.

On January 12, 2014, the fourth anniversary of the Haitian Earthquake, Partners In Health published the below story on our website.   Please take a moment to read about some of the significant progress taking place in Haiti, thanks to the generosity of people like you.  Your support has enabled PIH to bring hope to the people of Haiti.

After Earthquake, University Hospital is Transforming Lives in Haiti

Four years after an earthquake struck Haiti’s capital—damaging its already-weak medical infrastructure—a new public teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti,

Training the next generation of clinicians

A key function of the hospital is to train Haiti’s next generation of social justice doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Workshops and trainings began before the first patient stepped foot in the building, but training has ramped up as specialty services come online. Since June, the hospital has hosted more than 165 trainings, including cardiac resuscitation training for 91 medical staff.

In fall 2013, the teaching hospital marked a significant milestone with the entrance of its first class of medical residents. These 14 young Haitian doctors are training to become specialists in pediatrics, internal medicine, and surgery, and a new class will enroll every year. Read more about this first enthusiastic class of residents here.

In 2014, hospital leaders will begin training for other specialties. Nurses will be trained in anesthesiology and critical care, skill sets that are necessary for emergency and surgical care. New medical residencies are being planned for obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine, which would be the first such residency in the country.

“You don’t learn how to be a doctor in medical school,” said Dr. Michelle Morse, who has helped plan medical education programs at University Hospital. “It’s during residency that you dive in and begin to understand what it’s all about.”

Catalyzing economic growth

University Hospital has also helped grow the economy of the Central Plateau.

Researchers from PIH, Haiti, and the United States teamed up to analyze the economic impact of University Hospital, using what’s known as an input-output model. They estimated that for every $1 invested in the hospital, $1.82 is pushed into the Haitian economy.

Essentially, the influx of resources in one sector of the economy—health care and teaching in this case—will affect other sectors of the economy through what’s called the “multiplier effect.” This will result in an economic impact far greater than that of the original investment.

“The idea behind the input-output approach is intuitively simple,” the researchers note in a working paper.

Researchers used an input of $16.2 million, the estimated long-run annual full-capacity operating cost of University Hospital. Using the model, the team found that a $16.2 million investment in the hospital spills over into other sectors of the economy, resulting in an impact of $29.4 million in the broader Haitian economy. To learn more and see a graphic illustration of this model, click here.

Four years after the earthquake, Partners In Health is grateful to the many supporters and partners who helped make University Hospital a reality for the people we serve, and we look forward to making an even greater impact through our sustained commitment to Haiti in the years to come.

Since opening in March 2013, University Hospital has treated thousands of people who previously had little—or no—access to health care. The facility, built by Partners In Health and Haiti’s Ministry of Health, also serves as a training ground for Haiti’s future clinicians, and is a catalyst for economic growth in the region.

New access to medical services

University Hospital provides care for a referral area in which 3.4 million people live, including people in Mirebalais and two surrounding “communes,” or regions.

Since opening, staff members have registered more than 42,000 patients, providing more than 55,000 clinical visits. About 60 percent of patients are from the three regions closest to the hospital, and about the same proportion are women, according to data from the hospital’s electronic medical record system.

“The quality of care patients are receiving is speaking for itself, and the word is getting out,” said Marc Julmisse, University Hospital chief nursing officer, who is Haitian-American. "Our staff is doing an amazing job, and it goes to show—from outpatient services to inpatient care to the emergency room—that Haiti needs a hospital like this.”

Clinicians see more than 700 patients on a typical day.

The hospital employs about 700 people, including about 300 nursing staff and 50 doctors. Seventy percent of its employees are from the Central Plateau.

The hospital has an emergency department, state-of-the-art operating rooms, and a specially designed electronic medical record system. A system of 1,800 solar panels produces most of the facility’s energy needs. To read more about University Hospital’s solar energy system, click here.

Demand for services has grown as referrals from other facilities increased and word spread about free specialty care at University Hospital that was unavailable elsewhere in Haiti. For example, analyses of where surgery patients live show that people travel from all over Haiti to receive surgical care at the hospital.

Since the maternity wards opened, clinicians have delivered more than 800 babies, about 25 percent of which were born through cesarean sections—a rate that reflects the hospital’s role as a referral center for pregnancies with expected complications.

Since March, the following services have opened at University Hospital:

Training the next generation of clinicians

A key function of the hospital is to train Haiti’s next generation of social justice doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Workshops and trainings began before the first patient stepped foot in the building, but training has ramped up as specialty services come online. Since June, the hospital has hosted more than 165 trainings, including cardiac resuscitation training for 91 medical staff.

In fall 2013, the teaching hospital marked a significant milestone with the entrance of its first class of medical residents. These 14 young Haitian doctors are training to become specialists in pediatrics, internal medicine, and surgery, and a new class will enroll every year. Read more about this first enthusiastic class of residents here.

In 2014, hospital leaders will begin training for other specialties. Nurses will be trained in anesthesiology and critical care, skill sets that are necessary for emergency and surgical care. New medical residencies are being planned for obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine, which would be the first such residency in the country.

“You don’t learn how to be a doctor in medical school,” said Dr. Michelle Morse, who has helped plan medical education programs at University Hospital. “It’s during residency that you dive in and begin to understand what it’s all about.”

Catalyzing economic growth

University Hospital has also helped grow the economy of the Central Plateau.

Researchers from PIH, Haiti, and the United States teamed up to analyze the economic impact of University Hospital, using what’s known as an input-output model. They estimated that for every $1 invested in the hospital, $1.82 is pushed into the Haitian economy.

Essentially, the influx of resources in one sector of the economy—health care and teaching in this case—will affect other sectors of the economy through what’s called the “multiplier effect.” This will result in an economic impact far greater than that of the original investment.

“The idea behind the input-output approach is intuitively simple,” the researchers note in a working paper.

Researchers used an input of $16.2 million, the estimated long-run annual full-capacity operating cost of University Hospital. Using the model, the team found that a $16.2 million investment in the hospital spills over into other sectors of the economy, resulting in an impact of $29.4 million in the broader Haitian economy. To learn more and see a graphic illustration of this model, click here.

Four years after the earthquake, Partners In Health is grateful to the many supporters and partners who helped make University Hospital a reality for the people we serve, and we look forward to making an even greater impact through our sustained commitment to Haiti in the years to come.

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