Partners In Health

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Medicine through a moral lens
United States
Photo by Partners In Health

Often linked in the public mind with the critical voice of high-profile co-founder Paul Farmer, Partners In Health has, since its beginnings as a community-based health project in the mountainous Central Plateau of Haiti, come to be recognized as perhaps the pre-eminent public health NGO globally. The organization is guided by the same passion that drove those young adults responsible for its conception – namely an overwhelming sense of solidarity, rather than charity, when dealing with the world’s poorest and most underserved populations. In practice, this vision is manifest in Partners in Health’s holistic model of patient care, which emphasizes the need to alleviate the economic and social burdens of poverty that exacerbate diseases like HIV/AIDS and multidrug – resistant tuberculosis.

The game-changing Partners in Health approach encompasses five key elements focused on addressing intractable and neglected conditions: universal access to primary health care, ensuring health and education services are free to the poor, hiring and training community health workers, improving access to food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, education and economic opportunities and partnering with local and national governments to guarantee the system- wide scale-up and adoption of new approaches to treating infectious disease. All fuelled by a simple credo: “whatever it takes.”

The results, in collaboration with longstanding partners Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are impressive in scope. At the beginning of 2012, Partners in Health was providing direct medical care to 2.4 million people in 12 countries, the bulk through local community health workers. Meanwhile, the dream of transformational change embodied in the post-earthquake Stand With Haiti plan was realized with the opening of a state of the art teaching hospital in Mirebalais, with long-term implications for the capacity of Haiti’s public health system and future medical personnel.

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