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...
Sep 5, 2013

Childhood Malnutrition in Haiti - Sep. 2013 Update

A malnourished child is weighed.
A malnourished child is weighed.

Thank you so much for supporting Partners In Health’s Childhood Malnutrition Project in Haiti on globalgiving. I am excited to share with you a letter from our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, which provides an update on this important work: 

I want to tell you a story about a little girl in Haiti.

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.  And thanks to your generous support, we are able to treat patients like Lovena every day.  

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.

The child had many follow-up visits to the hospital so we could 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.

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, but we have an ambitious goal—to eliminate all deaths of children under 5 years old from malnutrition in the areas we serve.

We use a simple innovation, a therapeutic peanut butter packed with micronutrients that we produce locally, to treat malnutrition effectively in clinics and in children’s homes.

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.

Your support has helped us to accomplish a new standard of high-quality care for the poor, the elimination of this tragic cause of needless death, and a true chance at a productive life for thousands of children.

Dr. Jean Louis Romain, a Haitian pediatrician, has seen countless cases of malnutrition since he began working with us in 2005. He said that children’s parents often don’t understand the signs of malnutrition. More importantly, mothers of children with malnutrition often feel ashamed that they don’t have the means to feed their children, and they avoid seeking care for fear of judgment from the providers or fellow patients.

“It’s a sickness that comes from want,” Dr. Romain said. “They feel ashamed.”

After treatment for the children and support for the parents, however, Dr. Romain said that the parents’ attitudes change, and their experiences benefit their communities.  Families spread the word about preventing malnutrition and receiving care. The children’s parents also receive comprehensive health care and social support through Partners In Health. This helps ensure they can be as productive as possible in providing for their children so that the cycle of poverty and malnutrition does not repeat itself.

“They see that there’s a possibility for their children to live happily. They understand they don’t have to become gravely sick, and they know they can come to the hospital earlier for help,” Dr. Romain said.

With your continued support, we will be able to reach, support, and treat more of the most vulnerable children and their families.


With gratitude,

Joia Mukherjee

Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health

Aug 12, 2013

Equip Mirebalais Hospital - Aug. 2013 Update

Last month, there was a tap-tap accident in Saut d’Eau, Haiti a community near Mirebalais. The victims from this crash were taken to University Hospital’s emergency department for treatment – a great example of Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante staff providing essential emergency care to the communities around the hospital. In the past, patients from such an accident would likely have been transferred to Port-au-Prince for treatment, but with our new capabilities in Mirebalais, clinicians were able to treat them at University Hospital.  

Thanks to your support, University Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology that is saving lives every day.  The article below, written by Partners In Health's Christian Hague, summarizes the story of one of the first emergency situations since the hospital began operating.  

Emergency Department at University Hospital Treats Victims of Bus Crash

Each year, a three-day spiritual pilgrimage known as the Feast of Mount Carmel draws thousands of faithful to the town of Saut d’Eau in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau. The pilgrims come to bathe in the local waterfall where, over 150 years ago, the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared and began to heal the sick. They often come in the back of pickup trucks known as tap-taps that are crowded with passengers and can be dangerous on the area’s unpaved, winding roads. In past years, tap-tap accidents claimed many lives during the pilgrimage to Saut d’Eau.

When a tap-tap crashed in the nearby town of Morne Couleuvre during this year’s July pilgrimage, the injured were brought to the nearby Hôpital Universitaire d’Mirebalais, a new hospital operated jointly by Partners In Health, its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante, and the Haitian Ministry of Health. The 300-bed hospital offers many services that were never before available in this area of the Central Plateau, including a CT scanner that was used with many accident victims to diagnose injuries. The volume of patients from the Morne Couleuvre bus accident flooded the hospital’s emergency ward, where PIH/ZL’s clinicians were able to successfully treat 14 patients suffering from a variety of traumatic injuries, including four people with serious head injuries, one with a critical cervical spine fracture, one with a femur fracture, and a variety of other minor injuries. With the combined efforts of the emergency and surgical teams and the availability of the CT scanner, which has dramatically improved diagnostic capacity, the patients were well cared for at University Hospital and only one patient needed to be transferred for further care. 

Events like this highlight the essential services that University Hospital is providing to patients in the area around Mirebalais. Previously, the area lacked a large-scale medical facility to deal with high patient volume and provide essential emergency services, so patients often had to be transferred to the capitol in Port-au-Prince. “Having a modern and well-equipped emergency department and a highly trained team will dramatically improve our ability to reduce morbidity and mortality related to trauma in the Central Plateau,” says Dr. Regan Marsh, the Director of Emergency Services at University Hospital. “The ED physicians and nurses will be able to quickly assess, stabilize and manage both minor and major injuries – and have access to essential resources, such as bedside ultrasound and CT scan. We have already started trauma training for both the ED staff and surgeons and are continuing it now with one of our first visiting professors, who arrived in July 2013.”

Jul 31, 2013

Support Children in Rural Malawi - Aug 2013 Update

Sixteen-year old Bester Stand attends Chikonde Secondary School in Malawi’s rural Neno District. The third-born child in his family, who now lives with his older brother, he says his favorite school subject is English and that he hopes to become a doctor one day. However, before he became involved with APZU’s Program on Social and Economic Rights in 2012, Bester was unable to pay his school fees or to afford school materials. He says that he really appreciates the support he receives from APZU and thinks POSER is very important to many needy people in Neno.

In addition to providing housing support, income-generating and vocational training, and other social support assistance to adults in Neno, POSER reaches 2,000 vulnerable children in the district each year. 200 of these children are teenaged secondary school students and include not only Bester but also 10 of his classmates at Chikonde. With POSER support, their school and exam fees are paid and they receive uniforms, math instruments, and rulers at the beginning of the year as well as notebooks and pens at the beginning of each of three terms. POSER Coordinator Sam Msiska and other staff members also build important and supportive relationships with the students to support their psychosocial health.

APZU will continue to welcome donations to cover the costs of school fees and materials for young students like Bester and his classmates and looks forward to updating this page again next term. In the mean time, zikomo kwambiri to everyone who has supported this project! You are helping to make a critical difference for children in Neno. 

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