Dr. Paul Farmer began visiting Haiti more than 30 years ago while still a student in medical school. During those early days, he logged long hours to provide free, basic health care out of a single local clinic. Zanmi Lasante, as Partners In Health is known in Haiti, grew from his efforts in that tiny hillside community.
PIH now helps deliver comprehensive, high-quality health care in some of the poorest, most remote regions of Haiti. A local staff of 5,300 doctors, nurses, and community health workers serve an area of 4.5 million people, and we do it all in partnership with the national Ministry of Health.
We believe health is a human right—regardless of where you live or under which conditions you were born. That’s why we offer basic medical care, such as safe births, as well as perform lifesaving surgeries, treat cancer, and support patients living with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Many Haitians live on less than $2 a day, and this contributes to malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and depression—all of which we treat as well.
PIH prides itself on its capacity to innovate. When global health experts said it wasn’t possible to treat HIV or tuberculosis in poor countries, we proved them wrong in Haiti by training locals to deliver daily, lifesaving medication to their neighbors. Since the late 1990s, so-called community health workers have helped 15,000 HIV-positive patients begin and remain on treatment. And every year, 1,500 TB patients have started treatment on the path to a cure. Our example has since become global best practice in HIV and TB care.
While caring for the sick and injured, PIH also builds the next generation of doctors and nurses. University Hospital in Mirebalais, a 300-bed teaching hospital, is home to residency programs in emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and nurse anesthesiology. Graduates from these multi-year programs work throughout the country, reinforcing the local health system and allowing more patients access to the care they deserve.
Today, PIH is the largest nonprofit health care provider in Haiti, and its work there has inspired millions.