For Immediate Release

July 17, 2012

Media Contacts: Kria Sakakeeny, 617-998-6541 (ksakakeeny@pih.org) or Andrew Marx (amarx@pih.org)

First National Cancer Referral Center in Rural East Africa Opens in Rwanda on July 18

President Bill Clinton, The Government of Rwanda, NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon, Partners In Health’s Paul Farmer, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Larry Shulman to Inaugurate the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence

BOSTON and BUTARO, Rwanda – On July 18, 2012, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda, Partners In Health, the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center will inaugurate the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which will serve as the first national cancer referral facility in rural Rwanda. President Clinton, who helped bring together this partnership through his Clinton Global Initiative, will inaugurate the Center, on the same site at which he laid the cornerstone for Butaro Hospital in 2008.

 The Center, located within Butaro Hospital in northern rural Rwanda, is a critical element of Rwanda’s ambitious five-year plan to introduce cancer prevention, screening and treatment on a national level.  The facility’s opening will mark a major milestone as the first center of its kind to bring comprehensive cancer care to rural East Africa.  

“Just a few years ago we had no system or financing mechanism to diagnose and treat AIDS in Africa. People said it was too expensive or too complicated. But today nearly 7 million people in developing countries are receiving treatment for HIV. We can do the same with cancer,” said Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health and chair of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.

 Rwanda has a population of nearly 11 million people -- and not a single Rwandan oncologist. Childhood cancers like acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has an 80 percent cure rate in the United States, are a virtual death sentence for children in Rwanda. The Cancer Center of Excellence aims to address both existing resource limitations and the growing global cancer burden. The World Health Organization expects 16 million new cancer cases worldwide by 2020, with 70 percent in developing countries like Rwanda. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence will provide a full spectrum of cancer care including screening, diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery, patient follow-up, and palliative care. It will also serve as the first facility to implement standardized cancer training and protocols that align with Rwanda’s new national guidelines.

WHO:  

President William J. Clinton, Founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States of America

Honorable Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda Minister of Health

Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion, founder of Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation

Dr. Larry Shulman, Chief Medical Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Paul Farmer, PIH co-founder, Chair of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine

WHAT: Opening ceremony of Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda’s Northern Province, Burera District.

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, July 18, 2012 

RSVP:  To arrange interviews, secure photographs or to attend the event, please contact Kria Sakakeeny at ksakakeeny@pih.org, 617-998-6541 or Andrew Marx at amarx@pih.org.

About Partners In Health: PIH is a global health organization relentlessly committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. We build local capacity and work closely with impoverished communities to deliver high quality health care, address the root causes of illness, train providers, advance research and advocate for global policy change. Ninety-four percent of the funds we raise go to our programs in the ten countries where we work, including Haiti, Rwanda, Russia, Peru and the United States. For more information please visit www.pih.org.

About the Clinton Global Initiative: Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

 CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

About the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation: The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation was established as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 1999 by the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. The
Foundation supports children battling cancer by funding programs that improve patients’ quality of life, treatment programs that increase survivorship, and pediatric medical research dedicated to finding a cure.

The Foundation also supports the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital in Concord, NC, which serves children in the community by providing a high level of primary and specialty pediatric care. We are proud to support a quality health care facility dedicated to compassionate care and medical excellence for children.

About the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center: the Center is the integration of one of the world’s leading cancer institutes with one of the world’s leading hospitals, creating one Center and one clinical team with a unique combination of resources to fight and defeat cancer. Through our 12 specialized treatment centers, we offer the most advanced treatment with the compassion and care that makes all the difference.


For Immediate Release

March 20, 2012

National Conference on Social Medicine to be held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

March 28-29, 2012

Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante joins Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti and the Groupe Promoteur de Médicine Sociale (GPMS) to host session March 28-29, 2012

Keynote speakers include: Partners In Health Co-Founder Paul Farmer, Partners In Health Chief Medical Officer Joia S. Mukherjee, and Gladys Prosper, MD, Dean of the Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – In partnership with the Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti and the Groupe Promoteur de Médicine Sociale (GPMS), Partners In Health and its sister organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante, will hold The National Conference on Social Medicine on March 28-29 in Port-au-Prince. The conference will highlight opportunities to strengthen Haiti’s public health sector with insights and policies informed by the field of social medicine, which focuses on understanding how social and economic conditions impact health, disease, and the practice of medicine.

The conference, which will take place at the Hotel Karibe's convention center, will provide an interactive forum to exchange and share effective strategies for health care delivery, as well as the education and training of medical professionals who address the health needs of populations living in resource-poor communities. Bringing together key stakeholders and experts in global health and development, the conference aims to promote the exchange of views and shared lessons and experiences in health care delivery, foster dialogue on approaches to build capacity of the public health system in resource-limited settings, encourage partnerships, and develop innovative approaches to health systems strengthening.

Confirmed speakers at the conference include distinguished experts in the field of health and development, policymakers and sector leaders, such as keynote speakers: Paul E. Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-Founder of Partners In Health, Kolokotrones University Professor, Harvard University and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Joia S. Mukherjee, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health and Associate Professor, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, along with distinguished guest speaker Gladys Prosper, MD, Dean of the Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti.

Discussion sessions will bring together experts in the field of global health to inform the curriculum of medical education geared towards improved training and retention of health professionals in resource-poor settings and within Haiti’s public health system. The objective of these sessions is to focus on the social determinants of health and to improve medical education and training in a social context.

For Participants: To register online, or view additional information about the National Conference on Social Medicine, please visit: www.pih.org/haiticonf. For questions regarding the conference, please contact: haiticonf@pih.org.

For Media: The conference will be open to the media. Members of the media must register beforehand via: www.pih.org/haiticonf or please contact: haiticonf@pih.org. Members of the media must be registered in advance to cover the conference.

About PIH: PIH works in 10 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH and its Haitian partner organization, Zanmi Lasante, have been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 25 years and are the largest health care providers in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley. PIH/ZL had 5,000 staff in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake. For more information please visit www.pih.org/haiticonf.

 

For Immediate Release

October 19, 2011

Media Contacts: Kria Sakakeeny, 617-998-6541 (ksakakeeny@pih.org
Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, (meves@pih.org)

Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Louise Ivers and Ms. Donna Barry Call for Integrated Approach to Slow Haiti’s Year-Long Cholera Epidemic, Including Introduction of Cholera Vaccine


BOSTON – Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH) and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Louise Ivers, Senior Health and Policy Advisor to PIH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Donna Barry, NP, MPH, PIH Director of Policy and Advocacy hosted a press conference call today to discuss the cholera epidemic in Haiti one year after the outbreak. Dr. Farmer, Dr. Ivers and Ms. Barry discussed the urgent need for an integrated response which includes: 1) scaling-up efforts to aggressively identify and treat all those with cholera 2) improving access to clean drinking water and strengthening Haiti’s sanitation infrastructure, and 3) rolling out the safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol.

In one year, cholera has killed over 6,500 Haitians and nearly half a million have been treated for the disease (roughly 5% of the country’s population). Cholera has killed more people in Haiti in one year than it did in all the other countries in the world combined in 2010. Since the start of the outbreak, PIH has mobilized its extensive network of community health workers, nurses and physicians to treat more than 75,000 patients. PIH now operates 12 cholera treatment facilities, and has hired and trained 3,378 community health workers to identify and treat cases of cholera and conduct aggressive public hygiene education campaigns. PIH psychosocial and mental health teams have also counseled and conducted memorial services for more than 4,000 families affected by cholera-related illness or death.

Cholera is well on its way to becoming endemic in Haiti, and, in the absence of a comprehensive and integrated response, cases will continue to rise and fall according to seasonal patterns. 

Listen to a recording of the October 19 media call on the player below:

Download audio file [7 MB]

 

Please see below for key quotes:

Dr. Paul Farmer on need for integrated approach to controlling the cholera epidemic:
“What we're calling for, a year into the epidemic, is a prompt integration of these prevention and care and treatment measures, including: chlorinated water at the household or village level, hand washing and hygiene measures, building up systems that haven't previously had them, improved case-finding, treating with oral rehydration salts and finally integration of oral cholera vaccine.”

Dr. Paul Farmer on Haiti’s water insecurity:
“Some years ago, PIH and many sister organizations began talking about the right to water. We did so because those of us who are clinicians, we can sit in our clinics and work in our hospitals and wait for people to come in sick with complications of water-borne diseases, or we can work with public authorities and appropriate NGO partners and others to build real water security in Haiti. We've been sounding that drum for some years now.”

Dr. Paul Farmer on aid agencies leaving Haiti:
“There's been this steady erosion of support, people coming in and leaving, it's been ADD of humanitarian work, it's just so short term. But we're not there for the short term, our partners are Haitian, we work with the Ministry of Health, our organization is really fundamentally a Haitian organization. And we, unable to retreat to some other activity or some other place in the world, are now probably putting in a half million dollars a month into cholera”

Dr. Paul Farmer on need to increase production of cholera vaccine:
“This entire debate should sound familiar... [because there were] the same discussions around HIV. The failure of imagination regarding price and this fetishized cost -- that it had to cost $10,000 per patient per year [for HIV], which was absurd at the time, because it’s not as if these drugs or the vaccines were made out of platinum... they could easily be manufactured, and the same plunge in prices with the increased demand, we expect to see that with cholera vaccine, and that of course will help us to have a global vaccine stock pile”

Dr. Louise Ivers on PIH cholera cases and aid agencies leaving Haiti:
“We've seen over 75,000 cases of cholera [in PIH-supported facilities] alone, that doesn't include cases that been seen in the communities. Between October 2010 and early January 2011, we had a lot of support from other collaborating organizations that were responding to the epidemic; however, since late winter/early spring of this year, we've seen most of those organizations either move to other parts of the country or stop their cholera treatment activities.“

Dr. Louise Ivers on introducing a safe, effective proven cholera vaccine:
“We are planning to vaccinate about 100,000 Haitians with a vaccine called Shanchol. We're planning on that number because 200,000 doses is the currently available number of vaccine doses, and we'll be working on this project in collaboration with GHESKIO, as well as with the Haitian Ministry of Health. The campaign planning is already underway, including stakeholder meetings and meetings w/ local communities involved in the vaccination campaign to ensure that we can have a communications campaign that really makes sense to explain to everybody involved what the vaccine is, how effective it is, what it means form them, and also for people who don't receive the vaccine, to understand why that might be so at this time.  And our intention is that this would just be the beginning of a larger national campaign to include cholera vaccination as part of national protocols to control the epidemic.”

 

 

 


For Immediate Release
July 7, 2011

Media Contact:  Kria Sakakeeny, 617 998 6541 (ksakakeeny@pih.org

Poor progress means multidrug-resistant tuberculosis continues to spread and cost lives
Efforts to revamp international response to MDR-TB not enough

New York/Geneva 7 July, 2011 – The global response to help countries scale up treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is underfunded and ineffective, according to a new report released today by three medical and medical advocacy organisations. A 20-month effort to reform the Green Light Committee Initiative, a World Health Organization (WHO)-hosted programme designed to help countries gain technical support for scale up of MDR-TB and access to quality-assured MDR-TB drugs, needs to be closely monitored to see if the reforms will address many key bottlenecks.

The report – issued by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, or MSF), Partners In Health (PIH) and Treatment Action Group (TAG) –identifies why efforts and progress to scale-up treatment for MDR-TB have been so sluggish. Over the past ten years, an estimated five million new cases of MDR-TB have occurred, with one and a half million lives lost.

“We found that a lack of urgency and commitment from governments is a major stumbling block”, said Javid Syed, TB/HIV Project Director at TAG. “Many affected governments appear to be in no hurry to address the serious treatment needs of this devastating disease, and this is impeding efforts to identify new MDR-TB cases. Donors are not making TB overall a priority and almost all of the major donors we contacted were unable to tell us how much of their funding was directed at DR-TB diagnosis and treatment. Besides funding, many countries will need global and regional support to build their capacity to diagnose and treat MDR-TB.”

Unpredictable and expensive drug supplies also contributed to the poor scale-up of treatment. The report – which looked at the MDR-TB treatment programmes of India, Russia and South Africa – also found that countries were prone to drug shortages and stock-outs, at both a national and international level – with serious consequences for patients. The price of certain key second-line anti-TB drugs – most off-patent and many more than 50 years old – has increased over the last ten years.

“There are just too many barriers to scale-up at the country level, such as the high price of second-line drugs”, said KJ Seung, Clinical Manager of PIH-Lesotho. “Countries know they need to address MDR-TB, but with the high price of medications and lack of laboratory capacity they are often unable to scale up programmes. International support mechanisms need to be more efficient and effective at helping address these barriers.”

But the report states that the guidance and support given by such international support mechanisms falls far short of what is needed. It highlights three support mechanisms: the Green Light Committee (GLC) which monitors and assesses the progress of country MDR-TB treatment programmes; the Global Drug Facility (GDF) which supplies drugs to programmes approved by the GLC; and the Global Laboratory Initiative (GLI) which supports countries in setting up new diagnostic services for TB. All of these mechanisms are hosted by the WHO.

The report findings show that countries, the GLC and GDF were not able to complement national efforts appropriately; barely 0.6% of the five million new MDR-TB patients over the last decade were treated through GLC-supported programmes. It also concluded that the GLI, though driven by laudable goals, was not transparent about what it had accomplished and was unable to provide data, making it impossible to evaluate its performance.

“The old GLC mechanism was no longer suited to help countries scale up treatment programmes”, said Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Executive Director for MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “The recent effort to reform the GLC has resulted in creating more committees, which I doubt will help countries and certainly do not address many of the bottlenecks that countries are facing.”

Listen to a recording of the July 7 media call on the player below:

Download audio file [44 MB]

For further information, please contact:

Joanna Keenan, MSF +41 79 203 13 02
Kria Sakakeeny, PIH +1 617 998 6541
Javid Syed, TAG +1 646 373 8801

The report An Evaluation of Drug-Resistant TB Treatment Scale-Up can be accessed at www.msfaccess.org, and summarises progress and challenges in MDR-TB scale-up in India, Russia and South Africa, provides an evaluation of the effectiveness of global initiatives to support scale-up, and summarises the available data on donor commitments to scale up. 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international emergency medical relief organization that provides direct medical assistance in over 70 countries world-wide. In 2010, MSF supported the treatment of over 25,000 TB patients across 28 countries.

Partners In Health (PIH) is an organization dedicated to providing comprehensive health care to disadvantaged populations in twelve countries around the world, including MDR-TB care in Haiti, Peru, Russia, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Malawi and Lesotho.

The Treatment Action Group (TAG) is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS. TAG works to ensure that people with HIV receive lifesaving treatment, care, and information. TAG’s programs focus on antiretroviral treatments, HIV basic science and immunology, vaccines and prevention technologies, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. 

 


For Immediate Release

June 1, 2011

Media Contacts:   Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, (meves@pih.org)
                                 Andrew Marx, (amarx@pih.org)

In a viewpoint article published on May 31st in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a coalition of medical and public health researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, led by Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners In Health and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, argue that a universal vaccination campaign is essential to ending the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

PLoS announced the publication of the article with the following press release. The link to the full viewpoint article is at the bottom of the press release.

Public release date: 31-May-2011
Contact: PLoS Press, press@plos.org
Public Library of Science

PLoS NTDs press release -- cholera in Haiti
Cholera's challenge to Haiti and the world

Debate about the public health response to Haiti's cholera epidemic continues as the crisis enters its ninth month, with some experts arguing that a vaccination campaign in Haiti would be neither feasible nor cost-effective, and advocating putting forth other measures. In a viewpoint article published on May 31st in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a coalition of medical and public health researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, led by Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners In Health and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, argue that a universal vaccination campaign is essential to ending the crisis.

Before last October, cholera had never been reported in Haiti. Even after the January 2010 earthquake, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities deemed it "very unlikely to occur." Largely because Haiti's population was "immunologically naïve," initially the outbreak exhibited a 7 percent case-fatality rate – among the highest recorded in recent history. In "Meeting Cholera's Challenge to Haiti and the World: A Joint Statement on Cholera Prevention and Care," the 44 authors maintain that "vaccination has a significant role to play in Haiti given the vulnerability of the post-earthquake health, water, and sanitation systems and the observed virulence of the El Tor strain…the MSPP (Haitian Ministry of Public Health) has called for nothing less than a universal vaccination campaign—an end goal this document endorses."

There are currently fewer than 400,000 vaccine doses ready for shipment but the authors assert that "advance purchase commitments could increase availability to several million. Past experience underscores the value of publicly-ensured purchases…. such funding can boost production, lower prices, and expand vaccine access." Furthermore, the authors argue that economies of scale contribute to lower production costs, as observed during the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS. Scaling up efforts in Haiti would also create momentum to prevent similar vaccine shortages during future outbreaks.

As a first step in the vaccination campaign, Farmer and coauthors recommend that WHO endorse the development of a two million dose stockpile for Haiti, coupled with a large-scale demonstration in Haiti comparing the effectiveness of cholera control efforts with – and without – mass vaccination. "If this demonstration were deemed successful," they write, "we would suggest the production of cholera vaccine be ramped up to develop a global stockpile of 10 million doses."

Haitians are especially susceptible to cholera infection because of several factors, including the large numbers of people left homeless and displaced by the earthquake that have been living in rural areas or large rural slums, where the epidemic has been most severe. "These communities were charged with hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced people after the earthquake, placing greater demands on their already-scarce resources, including water," write Farmer and his coauthors. However, a cholera vaccination campaign could leverage existing health worker networks without taking doctors and nurses away from the provision of acute care.

Financial Disclosure: No specific funding was received for this work.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. The views and opinions contained in this paper reflect those of the authors alone and should in no way be construed to represent the official position of any organization or agency for which they work or to which they belong.

Disclaimer

This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The release is provided by the article authors. Any opinions expressed in these releases or articles are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.

Media Permissions

PLoS Journals publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits free reuse of all materials published with the article, so long as the work is cited (e.g., Kaltenbach LS et al. (2007) Huntingtin Interacting Proteins Are Genetic Modifiers of Neurodegeneration. PLoS Genet 3(5): e82. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030082). No prior permission is required from the authors or publisher. For queries about the license, please contact the relative journal contact indicated here: http://www.plos.org/journals/embargopolicy.php

Read the full viewpoint article published on May 31st in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases: http://www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0001145


For Immediate Release
April 23, 2011

Media Contacts:   Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, (meves@pih.org)
                                 Andrew Marx, (amarx@pih.org)

PIH Statement: Political Violence in Belladere

Partners In Health (PIH) and Zanmi Lasante (ZL) are deeply concerned about the insecurity in Belladere and elsewhere in Haiti and strongly condemn recent acts of violence. Beyond causing pain to our staff and the community we serve, these events have disrupted our ability to provide critical health care services to communities in the Belladere area. We call upon Haitian authorities to maintain security in the region to ensure that the people of Belladere and the surrounding communities have continued, uninterrupted access to health care. Moreover, we urge partisans to respect the neutrality of PIH and ZL in the political process.

Immediately following the publication of the second round legislative elections results late on April 20, violence erupted in Belladere where ZL has worked with the Ministry of Public Health and the local community since 2003. In the early hours of April 21, arson claimed the life of a beloved colleague Phyzeme Isly, who worked to provide health care to the people of the region for nine years. Other ZL staff and their family members were also wounded in the attacks.

In advocating for access to free services for the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Haiti, PIH and ZL work with the Government of Haiti to strengthen the public health care sector, in close partnership with affected communities and other local partners. While we work with democratically-elected officials and their appointed officials of the government, PIH/ZL neither participates in the electoral process, nor affiliates with any political party. Despite the recent acts of violence that have occurred, we remain committed to serving our communities in an impartial manner.

About PIH: PIH is an international medical organization committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. PIH challenges the standards of what’s acceptable – and raises the standards of what’s possible – in some of the world’s poorest communities through a model of research, service and training. We work with local and international partners to increase life expectancies by providing people access to modern medicine, strengthening public health systems, and addressing the root social and economic causes of poor health and disease: lack of access to clean water, healthy food, stable housing, education and economic opportunity. PIH works in 12 countries around the world. 



For Immediate Release
February 23, 2011

Dr. Paul Farmer,  Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Dr. Gene Bukhman to discuss how to tackle non-communicable diseases in the world’s poorest populations.

Listen to a recording of the February 23 media call on the player below:

BOSTON – On a press conference call this afternoon, Dr. Paul Farmer (co-founder of Partners In Health and Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard), Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Health) and Dr. Gene Bukhman (Director of the Program in Global Non-communicable Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School) discussed why treating non-communicable diseases in resource-poor countries must be a global health priority. On the call, they shared examples from Rwanda and other developing countries that prove prevention and treatment of NCDs among the poor is possible, affordable, and can be effectively integrated into a comprehensive strategy that strengthens public health systems.

The call took place in advance of a conference next week (March 2-3), The Long Tail of Global Health Equity: Tackling the Endemic Non-Communicable Diseases of the Bottom Billion at the Joe Martin Conference Center on the Harvard Medical School campus. At that conference, experts are gathering to focus on how to address a collection of important, but rarely discussed diseases of the poorest populations: endemic non-communicable disease.

Several key quotes are listed below, and the full audio of the call is available above. If you are interested in attending the free NCDs conference next week, please contact Meredith Eves at meves@pih.org or 617-998-8945. The full conference proceedings will also be streamed on the web.

Dr. Gene Bukhman on importance of tackling NCDs: “Until recently, it’s been perceived that these disease are very difficult to tackle in the poorest countries. The needs are enormous. There’s an enormous burden of highly prevalent conditions like HIV, diarrheal disease, children continue to die at a high rate before age 5, women die in childbirth, and there’s been a question about how possible in the midst of that it is to address this collection of diseases, which are more complex perhaps, and less prevalent individually, but for which there are amazing interventions. Because of the focus (this year) on NCDs globally, this is an opportunity to gather together and focus the world’s attention on how it’s possible, now more than any other time in human history to be able to reach the poorest people in the world who have these conditions and who deserve interventions for prevention and treatment and palliation as a human right.”

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho on service delivery: “Infectious disease will not account for all of [Rwanda’s] morbidity and mortality. Our service delivery still has several gaps as non-communicable disease, which probably accounts for about 35% of the national burden of disease, according to the WHO, has yet to be addressed in a systematic way…Non communicable diseases are often considered the problem of middle and high-income countries. I want to stand strongly against that…. In general, non-communicable diseases in our country are linked to malnutrition, infection… and lack of access to health care…We need to identify and find the right set of integrated strategies… to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases in a holistic manner. It is very important because infectious disease, chronic disease and non-communicable diseases hurt the same members of our community and also the service will be delivered to them by the same health professionals in the same health centers…We can do a lot if we focus on those things  and everything it is not costly. There are some parts of the program that are costly. But we have to ask ourselves, 'What is the moral cost of doing nothing.' ”

Dr. Paul Farmer on health system strengthening: “You can use a vertical programs like an AIDS program or even a cardiac surgery program to strengthen health systems. For example: A good cardiac surgery program would improve the quality of surgical care in general. Not just for one disease… Better operating rooms, better supply chains, better trained surgeons…Let’s use these vertical programs to strengthen health systems in general…If you look at cervical cancer, if you have a good vaccination program, that you use to vaccinate for polio, to prevent polio, measles, or tetanus, it is a delivery system for the cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil. And so we’re trying to use this principle also to drive forward our advocacy work as well as to why it’s important to take on these neglected NCDS.”

The March 2-3 conference is hosted by Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care & Control in Developing Countries, and the NCD Alliance. The meeting will bring together experts about conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma, malnutrition-associated diabetes, and the respiratory impact of household fuels. The conference will also feature leaders in global health financing and individuals with experience treating non-communicable and infectious disease among the world’s poorest people. Speakers include Paul Farmer, Dean Jamison, K. Srinath Reddy, and Peter Hotez.

About PIH: PIH is an international medical organization committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. PIH challenges the standards of what’s acceptable – and raises the standards of what’s possible – in some of the world’s poorest communities through a model of research, service and training. We work with local and international partners to increase life expectancies by providing people access to modern medicine, strengthening public health systems, and addressing the root social and economic causes of poor health and disease: lack of access to clean water, healthy food, stable housing, education and economic opportunity. PIH works in 12 countries around the world.  

 


For Immediate Release
February 18, 2011

Dr. Paul Farmer,  Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Dr. Gene Bukhman to discuss how to tackle non-communicable diseases in the world’s poorest populations

BOSTON – Dr. Paul Farmer (co-founder of Partners In Health and Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard), Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Health) and Dr. Gene Bukhman (Director of the Program in Global Non-communicable Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School) will hold a press conference call on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 4:00PM EST to discuss the need to include the needs of the world’s poorest people in the broader discussion about non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The call is in advance of a March 2-3, 2011 conference, The Long Tail of Global Health Equity: Tackling the Endemic Non-Communicable Diseases of the Bottom Billion at the Joe Martin Conference Center on the Harvard Medical School campus. The UN General Assembly will host a high-level session on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in September 2011.

The UN session will take place largely because of the advocacy of middle-income countries, and preparations for it have so far focused almost exclusively on their concerns about NCDs that are largely the result of eating too much, exercising too little, and consuming tobacco and alcohol. Little attention and few resources have been devoted to the very different NCDs that account for approximately one quarter of disease among people who survive on less than $1 day (the so-called “Bottom Billion”). On the call, Drs. Farmer, Binagwaho and Bukhman will discuss why treating NCDs in resource-poor countries must be a global health priority. They will also share examples from Rwanda and other developing countries that prove prevention and treatment of NCDs among the poor is possible, affordable, and can be effectively integrated into a comprehensive strategy that strengthens public health systems.

The March 2-3 conference is hosted by Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care & Control in Developing Countries, and the NCD Alliance. The meeting will bring together experts about conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma, malnutrition-associated diabetes, and the respiratory impact of household fuels. The conference will also feature leaders in global health financing and individuals with experience treating non-communicable and infectious disease among the world’s poorest people. Speakers include Paul Farmer, Dean Jamison, K. Srinath Reddy, and Peter Hotez.

Who: Paul Farmer, MD, PhD
          Co-founder, Partners In Health,
          Kolokotrones University Professor, Harvard University
        Agnes Binagwaho, MD, PhD,
          Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Republic of Rwanda
        Gene Bukhman, MD, PhD
          Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School,
          Director, HMS Program in Global Non-communicable Disease and Social Change 

What:   Press conference call to discuss the need to increase focus on non-communicable diseases among the world’s poorest populations 

When:  4PM EST, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RSVP:   If you are interested in joining the call or attending the conference, please contact Meredith Eves at meves@pih.org or 617-998-8945

DIAL IN: Domestic: 1 (888) 771-4371 International: 1 (847) 585-4405  Passcode: 29137860

About PIH: PIH is an international medical organization committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. PIH challenges the standards of what’s acceptable – and raises the standards of what’s possible – in some of the world’s poorest communities through a model of research, service and training. We work with local and international partners to increase life expectancies by providing people access to modern medicine, strengthening public health systems, and addressing the root social and economic causes of poor health and disease: lack of access to clean water, healthy food, stable housing, education and economic opportunity. PIH works in 12 countries around the world.  

 


  


Haiti, one year later

January 12, 2011, marks the first anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Learn more about PIH's work over the past year to treat thousands of desperately wounded people and to help restore and strengthen public health facilities and services:

 

For Immediate Release
January 5, 2011

Partners In Health’s Ophelia Dahl, Joia Mukherjee and Ted Constan Discuss Situation in Haiti
Anniversary of January 12 Earthquake Is Next Week

“January 12 is a time for a reflection on some positive progress, but it’s also a time to renew the international commitment to solving these problems. If more effort isn’t made they could be around for generations.”
     – Ted Constan

BOSTON – Ophelia Dahl, PIH’s Co-founder and Executive Director, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, PIH’s Chief Medical Officer, and Ted Constan, PIH’s Chief Program Officer will hosted a press conference call today to discuss the situation on the ground in Haiti, a week before the one year anniversary of the January 12, 2010, earthquake.  

Dr. Mukherjee will be in Haiti from January 10 to January 16 and will be available for media interviews while she is there.

Listen to a recording of the January 5 media call on the player below:


Download the MP3 recording of the media call [15 MB].

Please see below for key quotes from the press call:

On working in Haiti following the earthquake: “We're very very proud of the work we've done, and yet we're humbled by the need that remains. The work that we've done has been highlighted by our very strong partnership with the Ministry of Health in Haiti, and the provision of healthcare in now 15 public facilities, as well as our charity hospital in Cange – where we're serving hundreds of thousands of people. Probably 1.5 million Haitians get their healthcare from facilities supported by PIH and the Ministry of Health. We have also engaged thousands of new Community Health Workers. Prior to the earthquake we had a staff of about 4,000; now that number is around 5,500. We've made significant progress in building the teaching hospital in Mirebalais and are on track to open that sometime in 2012. We have also focused our work around the needs of people wounded and affected by the earthquake, including augmenting and improving on mental health services," said Dr. Joia Mukherjee.

On conditions in "tent cities" of displaced people and creating possibilities for them to relocate: Clearly for us the biggest problem out there is the million displaced people and their living conditions. As we start to see sexual violence, at horrific levels existing in the camps, as we see a lot of political infighting around any kind of solution for finding places for folks to live, we begin to join in a chorus of impatience being expressed towards the response. A big part of this solution is jobs – we need to think about getting money down into the communities to produce jobs for people because that’s the only way people are going to get on their feet economically. We’d like to see more of a pull policy being generated  around the getting people out of the campscamps. Solutions that pull people out of the camps – markets, jobs, health care, clean water, stable housing, etc. Rather than what we fear is people being pushed out of their piece of sanity that they’ve made for themselves. We’d like to see more of a pull policy being generated Instead, what we’re afraid we’ll see is people pushed from the small piece of sanity that they’ve found in the camps,” said Ted Constan.

On cholera vaccine and antibiotics: “The cholera vaccine has been effective in two areas in epidemics in Africa and elsewhere. One way is protecting people, obviously. But the second way is through herd immunity, because the oral vaccine is live – and so you don’t have to vaccinate the entire population as well. This is also how the Polio vaccine works. The shortage of the vaccine is the usual economic milieu, which is: the majority of people who would use such a vaccine are not from countries which could easily pay for the vaccine. So part of what we're doing in our advocacy is to find companies able to make the vaccine at large scale, and to secure funding which would guarantee that there would be a market for that vaccine through a donor, then we think we could get enough vaccine to at least focus on the most vulnerable – people living in slums; in camps; children - toward achieving herd immunity. Antibiotics are probably less controversial than has been portrayed – they definitely work in severe cholera and also in moderate cholera, and they work in two important ways (that are) life-saving. We are advocating a much more aggressive approach to the use of antibiotics, rather than only focusing it on severe cholera. We feel we should do everything, in terms of the solutions,” said Dr. Joia Mukherjee.

On the need for coordination among organizations: “It is indeed a mess and something has to be done about it.There has to be, in the future, a way to co-ordinate the NGOs in Haiti – its been done in Rwanda very effectively, with accountability and goals attached to the presence of the NGOs there.. Haiti has 10 000 charities and NGOs working in that relatively small country - I think only India has more,” said Ophelia Dahl.

About PIH: PIH works in 12 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is the largest health care provider in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley. PIH had 4,400 staff in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake. Visit www.pih.org for more information.



For Immediate Release

January 4, 2011

Partners In Health’s Ophelia Dahl, Joia Mukherjee and Ted Constan to Discuss Situation in Haiti
Anniversary of January 12 Earthquake Is Next Week

BOSTON – Ophelia Dahl, PIH’s Co-founder and Executive Director, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, PIH’s Chief Medical Officer, and Ted Constan, PIH’s Chief Program Officer will hold a press conference call on Wednesday, January 5, at 2PM EST to discuss the situation on the ground in Haiti, a week before the one year anniversary of the January 12, 2010, earthquake. Dr. Mukherjee will be in Haiti from January 10 to January 16 and will be available for media interviews while she is there.

On the call, Ms. Dahl, Dr. Mukherjee, and Mr. Constan will discuss the cholera situation; the expansion of medical services at PIH’s 15 sites outside of Port-au-Prince; PIH’s ongoing efforts to work with the Haitian Ministry of Health to rebuild the public health and health education systems, including work underway to construct a 320-bed, state-of-the art teaching hospital in Mirebalais; and PIH’s efforts to provide care for 100,000 internally displaced people living in four spontaneous settlements in the capital city. PIH is currently executing a 2.5-year Stand With Haiti plan to help Haiti build back better. We released the $125 million plan less than a month after the earthquake.

The January 12, 2010 earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince, killing more than 230,000 in a matter of minutes and leaving 1.5 million homeless. The disaster gripped the attention of the United States for months – more than half of all American households donated to relief and rebuilding efforts. We anticipate renewed interest in the situation on the ground as the anniversary of the earthquake approaches.

Who:  Ophelia Dahl, Co-founder and Executive Director
          Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer
          Ted Constan, Chief Program Officer

What: Press conference call to discuss the situation in Haiti, one week before the anniversary of the January 12 earthquake.

When: Wednesday, January 5 at 2PM

RSVP: To RSVP contact Meredith Eves at meves@pih.org or 617-998-8945

DIAL:   Dial In: 1-800-640-0097 International Dial In: 1-847-944-7321 Passcode: 28764541

About PIH: PIH works in 12 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is the largest health care provider in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley. PIH had 5,000 staff in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake.



For Immediate Release

Friday, December 10

Media Contacts:   Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, (meves@pih.org)
                                 Andrew Marx, (amarx@pih.org)

Drs. Paul Farmer, Louise Ivers and Fernet Léandre Call for a Change in Strategy and Increased Resources to Slow Cholera Outbreak in Haiti and Beyond in Press Conference Today

Article published in The Lancet calls for five specific interventions

BOSTON – Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH) and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Louise Ivers, PIH’s Chief of Mission in Haiti and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr Fernet Léandre of PIH’s Haitian partner organization, Zanmi Lasante, hosted a press conference call today to discuss the cholera outbreak in Haiti and call for a more aggressive and comprehensive strategy to combat the disease.

Listen to a recording of the December 10 media call on the player below:

Download the MP3 recording of the media call.

Please see below for key quotes from the press call:

Key quotes:

Treatment of Cholera Outbreak with Antibiotics and Vaccine: “We wrote this piece in an effort to improve the quality of discussion about what could and should be doing in Haiti to slow down the cholera outbreak.  We want to raise the bar.  In our view, treatment of cholera in Haiti must be much more aggressive – more specifically, rehydration alone without antibiotics is not adequate for even moderate cases of cholera.  We are arguing for antibiotics for all who are showing cholera symptoms. It is important that we bring a vaccine into the mix as a complimentary tool as well,” said Dr. Paul Farmer.

Availability of Vaccine: “Based on our discussions with experts, there are potentially 2 million doses of the cholera vaccine available.  In the face of a regional, long-standing epidemic, it does not seem too much to ask to start ramping up that effort to make available significantly more doses of vaccines.  I would have expected more engagement on some of these tough logistic questions – how do we have the vaccine, how do we distribute it, make it more available, etc,” said Dr. Paul Farmer.

Status of Cholera Outbreak in the IDP Camps: “We are providing health care in three camps for internally displaced people in Port-au-Prince, including one of the largest camps, Parc Jean-Marie Vincent, with more than 51,000 people.  We started to see sporadic cases turn up in this camp as Hurricane Tomas passed but now we are seeing a steady stream of patients and we’ve established a 50-bed cholera treatment unit (CTU).  Interestingly, many of the patients are coming from outside of the camps, from the neighboring slums.  The water and sanitation situation in the camps remains dire; in Parc Jean-Marie Vincent there are 200 latrines for 51,000 people, which means the vast majority of people are using buckets or just an open area in the corner of the camp and there remains a very high risk of the further spread of the disease in the camps and elsewhere,” said Dr. Louise Ivers.

Challenge of Cholera Outbreak in Remote Rural Communities: “We are seeing more and more cases in mountain areas, remote areas where it can often take more than 10 hours to reach them. People in these communities lack access to health care, to clean water and sanitation. They cannot be reached by ambulances. The key to reaching them is strengthening the network of community health workers, who have enormous solidarity value in responding to an outbreak of a stigmatized disease and educating communities on water, sanitation, and prevention. It is very important to reinforce water and sanitation in rural areas, besides building latrines to discourage people from dr

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