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 ...
Jan 12, 2016

PIH Reach the Beach Final Update

Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health
Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

Above: A native Tzeltal speaker, Petrona (left), 68, tells CES community health worker Maribel about side effects from her hypertension.

 

Thank you so much for donating to Partners In Health and our Reach the Beach fundraiser to benefit our work in Chiapas, Mexico. Your generous support of the runners who participated in September’s Reach the Beach relay in New Hampshire not only provided health care to people in need, but also the motivation to endure the intense, 200-mile-long challenge!

Partners In Health and its sister organization, Companeros en Salud (PIH/CES), work directly with local doctors, nurses and community members to improve health outcomes in one of Mexico’s most marginalized, isolated communities. Here in Chiapas, half the population lives under the poverty line; infectious and non-communicable diseases alike are highly prevalent; public clinics are hard-to-reach and ill-equipped; and a cycle of poverty and disease affects everyone.

Your generous contributions make it possible for CES to provide high-quality medical services to the people of Chiapas who otherwise have no reliable source of care. Donations to our Reach the Beach fundraiser helped fund the work of CES community health workers (CHW) like Maribel, Chiapas’ only trilingual health worker. Perez conducts home visits and translates between doctors and patients, removing language barriers that made clinics inaccessible to many Chiapas residents. Below is an interview with Maribel, and a link to her full story.

 

Did your Tzeltal-speaking patients come to the clinic before you started as a CHW?

Once I was talking with a patient and I asked her how she got her medication before I started visiting her. She said she wanted to go to the clinic, but she wouldn’t be able to understand the doctor, and he wouldn’t be able to understand her. And her husband works, so he couldn’t go with her. So she just didn’t go.

That’s where I feel like I’m helping a lot, or at least I have helped her. She hasn’t missed a treatment or gone without pills. She’s been really well.

What are the major health concerns in Plan de la Libertad?

The most common illnesses are stomach pains, fever, coughs, and flus—especially for children during the rainy season. There’s a lot of chronic disease. For example, here in the community there’s diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and depression. Then there are other illnesses I didn’t know about before I became a CHW, such as schizophrenia and epilepsy.

Do people practice traditional medicine here?

Yes, that’s what they tell me. But the truth is that I don’t know if it has any effect. For high blood pressure, for example, they drink tea made from the boiled leaves of a lime tree. There’s no proof that it works. For the flu, some people drink tea made from bougainvillea leaves and chamomile, boiled together with cinnamon. That’s what we prepare sometimes too. Tea with honey is good when you feel really congested.

Are there any traditional medicines that you discourage?

Sometimes people come from outside the community offering natural remedies saying, “This is really good. This will cure you!” A little while ago, a woman who said she was a naturalist was offering some remedy for diabetes and hypertension, and many said that it was good, that the results were worth it, so they stopped taking their medication. But a little while later, no one was cured. Now they are on the clinic’s medication again.

Has your job helped you in any way?

It makes me happy, because through this job I’ve met people I never thought I’d meet. And it’s helped me a lot because I feel fulfilled. Before I went from my kitchen, to my house, to the school and nowhere else. But with this job, I go to visit my patients. I get some exercise. I get out of my home. I forget about my own housework for a little while. When I’m out for a walk, I meet people along the road and I laugh with them.

What do you enjoy most about being a CHW?

I enjoy helping people who don’t speak Spanish.

Have you applied any lessons to your own health?

Several times we’ve had the chance to take psychoeducation courses with CES doctors. I’d experienced many things since the time I was a child up until just a little while ago. All of the advice and training Companeros En Salud doctors gave me, it’s helped me a lot.

Do you think the CHW program benefits communities?

This program should expand to other communities, because there are places where people don’t have family or anyone, but they need medication. Because they don’t have a CHW or aren’t aware of their health, they don’t get treatment. That’s what I would say, that there should be more of this, that the program should continue growing.

 

Thank you again for your support!

Links:

Dec 18, 2015

PIH Ebola Response December 2015 Update

Jon Lascher/Partners In Health
Jon Lascher/Partners In Health

Above: PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. AP Koroma discuss maternal health in Sierra Leone on April 6, 2015. Koroma is the medical superintendent at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown.

Thank you so much for supporting Partners In Health and our work to fight Ebola and strengthen the already-weak health systems it destroyed in West Africa. Foreign Policy recently published an article about Ebola’s devastating, long-term toll on maternal and child health in Sierra Leone. We're happy to share an excerpt of this story that highlights the importance of PIH's contuinued commitment to Sierra Leone, and we encourage you to read the full article by clicking the link below.

 

The deadly virus that motivated billions of dollars in international aid has killed nearly 4,000 people in Sierra Leone. (Total infections in the country as of Nov. 22 were 14,122.) The number of children under age 5 who die each year from other causes is 10 times that.

Yet there are signs that the two trends are dangerously intertwining — that the ravaging toll Ebola has taken on Sierra Leone’s health-care system may mean even more mothers and children will die in years to come.

As Ebola crowded out other health concerns in 2014, the country’s already tremulous health infrastructure fell apart. “Sierra Leone is still struggling to emerge from the ravages of a devastating war,” says Anders Nordstrom, representative to Sierra Leone from the World Health Organization (WHO). “The Ebola outbreak has added strain to an already fragile system.”

In November 2014, six months after the country’s first Ebola cases were documented, the WHO reported that “few patients have access to healthcare facilities, with many facilities closed.” Many health workers died or quit out of fear. Attendance at clinics dropped by as much as 90 percent, the WHO report found. Frightened parents kept their children home with life-threatening diseases. Vaccination programs that were only just starting to effectively combat other killers, such as measles and Lassa fever, were decimated. As a result, local doctors and international NGOs, including Care USA, estimate that for each person Ebola has killed through direct infection, more than one Sierra Leonean will perish from the secondary effects of the crisis. 

Read the full article

Links:

Dec 10, 2015

University Hospital in Haiti December 2015 Update

Jean Joel Saint Hubert, OB-GYN fellow
Jean Joel Saint Hubert, OB-GYN fellow

Thank you so much for supporting Partners In Health and University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. We are excited to share with you a profile of one of University Hospital's four new OB-GYN residents. We encourage you to click the link at the bottom of the page to read about the rest of the residents and the hospital's growing program in obstetrics and gynecology.

Name: Jean Joel Saint Hubert

Hometown: Aquin

Age: 28

Did you always know you were going to be a doctor?

Yes, I knew since I was 16 years old. My aunt was a midwife and was always delivering babies. There was a time when she was by herself, her children weren’t there, and she called me to help with a birth. There were two people in labor, and she told me to stay in the room, watch the patient, and call her when I saw the baby’s head. I saw the head and called her, but she couldn’t come because she was with the other patient. 

So I put on gloves and held the baby’s head as the baby came out. The only thing I couldn’t do was cut the cord. Ever since then, everyone—even my friends—have called me ti doktè, which is Kreyol for “Little Doctor.” 

How do you like the residency program?

After the construction of the hospital, I always went and looked at PIH’s website. I saw information about the hospital and decided to go to Mirebalais because they have many programs that train Haitian doctors. I attended an orientation that detailed [PIH sister organization] Zanmi Lasante’s story, and physicians talked about how we have to consider patients and give them attention. I like Zanmi Lasante’s philosophy; I’m not just a doctor, I connect with my patients.

Links:

 
   

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