"Our health care system is ailing; the US spends a higher percentage of its per-capita GDP on health care than any other nation," said Dr. Heidi Behforouz at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City on September 20. "And yet, some of our statistics rank with those of developing nations."

Dr. Behforouz, the executive director of PIH's Boston-based Prevention and Access to Care and Treatment (PACT) Project, presented a commitment to action at CGI that outlines a strategy for integrating community health workers (CHWs) into health systems across the United States.


PACT's Dr. Heidi Behforouz presenting at the 2011 Clinton Global Health Initiative Annual Meeting.

"Our greatest challenges include a health care financing system that encourages episodic disease-based care as opposed to prevention and wellness, reluctance of a hierarchical medical culture to accept CHWs, and the lack of an established focus on continuous quality improvement, accountability, and transparency," said Dr. Behforouz. "PACT seeks partners who can advocate for healthcare finance reform, lead organizational and cultural change within health care institutions, and create easily adaptable systems for maximizing value based health care — where all patients achieve good outcomes at lower cost."

The three-day CGI meeting is an opportunity for participants like Dr. Behforouz to build partnerships with politicians, activists, academics, and other NGOs. Fellow participants at this year’s meeting include Madeleine K. Albright, Tony Blair, Ted Turner, and PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer.

Since 2005, CGI has brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, and influential people across fields. CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. 

Read more about PACT’s commitment to action. 

The PACT project is supported by both PIH and the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

How Community Health Workers could benefit US health care.

The importance of community and business partnerships.