Peru is a country of contrasts; it has one of the best performing economies in South America, yet nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty. Where economic growth is not equitable, neither is access to a good education or quality health care.
Partners In Health in Peru, known locally as Socios En Salud, has been treating disease and training community members to provide education and care for their neighbors since 1996. As a partner to the Ministry of Health, we also have an impact on national policies for preventing and treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV.
Drawing on our experience with community-based care in rural Haiti, we have achieved remarkable success in confronting an epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in slums in the capital of Lima. We have treated more than 10,500 people. With cure rates greater than 75 percent—some of the highest in the world— we have inspired major changes in national and global health policies and overturned assumptions that the drug regimen for the disease is too expensive and too complicated to succeed in poor communities.
Today we are a global leader in clinical and operational research on this deadly infectious disease. Completed last year, the Epidemiology of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis study involved 124 health centers, 4,000 patients, 20,000 contacts, and hundreds of staff in Peru, making it among the world's largest research studies on this particular disease.
Beyond tuberculosis care, our team provides a variety of services that meet the health and socioeconomic needs of families living in and around Lima. We operate 10 botiquines, or small clinics, that serve patients who would otherwise have no access to primary care. Health educators oversee these botiquines, manage supplies and coordinate medical care.
Our health educators visit families with young children at risk of developmental delays and teach caregivers how to promote age-appropriate behaviors. We also support a community center where teenagers from impoverished neighborhoods attend after school activities.
We opened a safe house for women diagnosed with schizophrenia who, while medically stable, lack the skills to live independently. Our health educators help them to learn these skills, to collaborate with housemates, and to start down the path to further education or a new career.
Social support is often what our patients need most. We provide them with food baskets, transportation, and lodging, in addition to job-skills training, and small loans to start businesses.