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Jun 5, 2017

Support children in Malawi - June 2017 Update

Photo by Katherine Ruffing / Partners In Health
Photo by Katherine Ruffing / Partners In Health

Blessings (pictured above) is a promising student currently in her second year of secondary school in Neno District, one of the poorest districts in Malawi.

Blessings herself comes from a family that has weathered tremendous financial hardship. Her father’s sudden death left her mother and grandmother to care for Blessings and her three siblings with no consistent means of earning income. The POSER program has supported Blessings’ education for the past four years.

“Without the POSER program, I would not have been able to continue school. My family is so vulnerable, there is no way they would have been able to pay school fees or get scholastic materials.” This year, POSER has covered school fees and provided critical scholastic materials (including pens, books, and mathematical instruments) to 295 secondary school students in Neno District, making it possible for students like Blessings to continue their education. Budgetary constraints in previous years had made it impossible to provide school uniforms, but this year POSER resumed providing school uniforms to secondary school students as well. Not only do uniforms serve to reduce the distraction of class-consciousness in school, but they are, in fact, required for attendance in Malawi. The POSER program is proud to help remove this barrier to education and to help more students stay in school.  

The POSER program invests similarly in younger students, supporting just over 1,900 primary school students in Neno District this academic year with the supplies necessary in order to attend school and participate fully in lessons, including exercise books and pens.

For the first time in the POSER Program’s history, more female students are being supported in primary school than male students. This is a heartening accomplishment given that encouraging women’s education remains an organizational priority. 

“It’s important,” Blessings says, “that everyone either male or female should be given an equal opportunity to attain education.” Though she speaks with the confidence of a future stateswoman, Blessings insists that she aspires to be a doctor. Her favorite subjects include mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology, and she hopes to return to Neno after her studies to work as a physician. “Doctors help patients and they are very important in their community,” she explains. “I would like to work in Neno so that more girls from Neno have a role model to encourage them to go to school.” Echoing her mom and grandmother’s commitment to her education, Blessings emphasizes, “it’s a pity that so many girls drop out of school. They should know this chance only comes once in your lifetime. They should work hard and keep in mind what the future can hold.”

Apr 18, 2017

PIH Ebola Response April 2017 Update

Photo by Rebecca E. Rollins / Partners In Health
Photo by Rebecca E. Rollins / Partners In Health

Above: Unlike many residents of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Kadiatu survived Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Then her vision began to fail.

Our efforts to tackle the Ebola virus in West Africa were among the most challenging in our history. When the number of new Ebola cases finally dropped in Sierra Leone, it was a welcome relief.

But soon we learned of a new problem facing Ebola survivors. An increasing number suffered from an eye disease called uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

Thousands of people had survived one of the worst epidemics in the world, only to face the loss of their vision.

We needed to find as many Ebola survivors as possible and screen them for uveitis. Roughly 100 of our community health workers, many of them Ebola survivors themselves, fanned out across the district in which we work to spread the word about uveitis and its risks.

Going house to house, they convinced neighbors and community members wary of doctors and hospitals to come to an eye clinic we had established with the Ministry of Health. In just one month, we screened 277 people and successfully treated 50 more for uveitis.

Based on our success, we worked with government and international partners to expand this work nationally. In June, we coordinated screenings and treatments for Ebola survivors across the country, in every district. Again, our community health workers proved vital in finding these survivors and getting them to treatment. Ultimately, we screened 3,058 Ebola survivors and treated 379 for uveitis.

We're proud to invite you to read more about our work post-Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia -- as well as in 8 other countries around the world -- in our 2016 Annual Report, available here: https://medium.com/partnersinhealth/2016annualreport-ec30bf1a337d

Thank you for your continued partnership!

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Mar 10, 2017

PIH Haiti Earthquake Recovery March 2017 Update

Your support of Partners In Health / Zanmi Lasante allows us to sustain our work of fortifying Haiit's health care sysem. Post 2010 earthquake, PIH built a 300-bed teaching hospital in Mirebalais. University Hospital continues to improve, providing patients more sophisticated treatments, training more future medical professionals, and saving more lives. We're thrilled to share this news from the hospital:

Inside a whitewashed room the size of a generous walk-in closet, three Partners In Health laboratory technicians and a pathologist meticulously slice tissue samples and embed them in paraffin. They are the first employees to christen the new pathology section in the Mirebalais Regional Reference Laboratory.

To outside observers, their work may seem tedious. But to cancer patients, it’s lifesaving.

The paraffin cassettes are no larger than a stick of gum and travel easily to Boston, where volunteer pathologists analyze them and send their diagnoses to PIH oncology staff at the University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. Before the pathology section opened in October, patients waited 90 days for a diagnosis. Now, they get one in 20.

“It’s a paradigm shift having pathology services outside of Port-au-Prince and, soon, being able to do all processing of biopsies onsite,” says  PIH’s director of laboratory services.

Patients aren’t the only ones benefitting from the new lab; staff with Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, have gained specialized skills and learned to use state-of-the-art technology.

“I love the new intellectual challenge,” says Myrléne, who used to work as a general lab tech in PIH’s clinic in Boucan Carré. Now, she takes pride in her promotion to histopathology technician.

Opening the pathology section first was essential given the number of oncology-related biopsies University Hospital surgeons perform. There were almost 2,000 last year alone, most of them for breast cancer.

Biopsies used to go directly to PIH’s partner institutions, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Now, instead of traveling 1,600 miles from Mirebalais to Boston, tissue samples are walked 100 yards across campus from University Hospital to the regional reference laboratory.

Please feel free to read more by clicking the link below. Thank you again for your generous support!

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