Until very recently, it was conventional wisdom that drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR TB) and HIV/AIDS could not be treated in developing countries. PIH proved otherwise, developing a model of community-based care to treat DR-TB in the slums of Lima, Peru, and deliver antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV/AIDS in a squatter settlement in rural Haiti. National health authorities in both countries incorporated the lessons learned in these pilot projects into national health systems.
Since then, PIH has expanded its community-based approach to health care and socioeconomic support to 12 countries across the globe.
We are driven by three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease, and to share lessons learned with other countries and NGOs. We bring the benefits of modern medicine to those most in need and work to alleviate the crushing economic and social burdens of poverty that exacerbate disease.
PIH believes in 5 fundamental principles:
PROVIDING UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
All people must have access to primary health care – this is especially true for communities affected by HIV/AIDS and TB. When quality primary care is accessible, people are more likely to seek care early and address both simple conditions and complex diseases. When PIH treats someone for an infectious disease, that patient also receives primary health and social services.
MAKING HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION FREE TO THE POOR
When clinics charge user fees in poor communities, people don’t seek access to health care. Health and education are fundamental routes to development and it is counterproductive and immoral to charge user fees to those who need these services most and can afford them least.
HIRING AND TRAINING COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
Health programs should involve community members at all levels of design and implementation. PIH hires and trains community health workers (CHWs) to provide health education, refer the sick to clinics, or deliver medicines and social support to patients in their homes. CHWs do not supplant the work of doctors or nurses; rather, they are a vital interface between the clinic and the community.
FIGHTING DISEASE MEANS FIGHTING POVERTY
Through community partners, PIH works to improve access to food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, education and economic opportunities.
PARTNERING WITH LOCAL AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS
While NGOs play a valuable role in developing new approaches to treating disease, successful models can only be made available widely through national health systems. To help meet this goal, PIH strengthens and complements existing public health infrastructure.