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Laboratory professional Lidabel Marina Ríos Gutiérrez works on TB diagnosis in Carabayllo, Peru.
Photo by William Castro Rodríguez / Partners In Health

Research at PIH

From clinical trials of tuberculosis treatment in Kazakhstan, Lesotho, and Peru to multi-year studies of HIV treatment in Rwanda and groundbreaking cholera vaccination projects in Haiti and Sierra Leone—to name just a few efforts—Partners In Health, or PIH, has been leading, facilitating, and conducting applied medical research for decades, through large-scale, collaborative projects around the world. 
The core of PIH’s mission, to bring the benefits of modern medical science to the world’s most vulnerable populations, relies on the generation of new knowledge through rigorous research that raises the global discussion about health care delivery, improves that delivery, and comprehensively strengthens health systems in the world’s poorest settings. 

Global Approach

The Global Health Delivery Partnership, for example, was formed with these goals firmly in mind. The partnership reflects PIH’s strong ties with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the partnership’s other founding members. Many PIH staff hold academic appointments at those institutions. The partnership enables PIH to leverage academic and clinical resources to research complex health issues, closely monitor existing and new interventions, utilize new data to improve clinical services, and, ultimately, set new standards of care for underserved populations. The partnership’s strategic priorities for 2014-19 focus on addressing the burden of disease and gaps in delivery in the 10 countries in which PIH works, while strengthening health care workforces and building a foundation of data to aid implementation.  

Another partnership that exemplifies PIH’s commitment to research is Expand New Drugs for TB, or endTB, which began in 2015 to foster innovation in places where multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is deadliest. The $60.4-million project is being conducted by PIH; Médecins sans Frontières; Interactive Research & Development, a global health delivery group; and financial partner Unitaid, a World Health Organization partnership that invests in the international fight against TB, HIV, and malaria. 

EndTB aims to enroll at least 2,600 patients in 17 countries on new TB drugs, while closely documenting the drugs’ effectiveness and safety, by 2019. The partnership had enrolled nearly 1,400 patients across 15 countries as of September 2017. 

In short, PIH’s research projects inform the adoption and implementation of best practices, and build effective tools for health systems delivery and strengthening in resource-limited settings. Research findings also demonstrate the effectiveness of PIH’s programs to potential donors, and are used to advocate for policy change at the national and international levels.

The following articles illustrate research activities and outcomes spanning PIH’s key programmatic areas, over just the past several years. 

Community health workers improve disease control and medication adherence among patients with diabetes and/or hypertension in Chiapas, Mexico: an observational stepped-wedge study
Published February 15, 2018, in BMJ Global Health

PIH staff and partners, according to the published article, “conducted a prospective observational study among adult patients with diabetes and/or hypertension, in the context of a stepped-wedge roll-out of a Community Health Worker-led intervention” in Chiapas, Mexico. The team, “measured self-reported adherence to medications, blood pressure and haemoglobin A1c at baseline and every three months, timed just prior to expansion of the intervention to a new community. We conducted individual-level mixed effects analyses of study data, adjusting for time and clustering by patient and community.”

PIH Making Strides Against TB, Stigma in Kazakhstan
January 17, 2018

Partners In Health and collaborators are taking big steps forward in the fight against tuberculosis in Kazakhstan, where increasing use of the first new TB drugs in decades, an innovative clinical trial, and digital technologies that better connect patients to caregivers all are raising hopes for more successful treatment.

New Drugs, New Hope to End TB in Peru
March 24, 2017

For the first time in 50 years, two new drugs are available to patients battling the most trenchant forms of tuberculosis. TB experts around the world, including those at Partners In Health, hope that Bedaquiline and Delamanid will deliver patients a quicker, less toxic cure than older drugs on the market.

New Center to Reinforce Battle against TB in Peru
September 15, 2016

New Reference Laboratory to Open In Haiti
March 18, 2016

The opening of Mirebalais Reference Laboratory for Diagnostic and Research has enabled thousands of patients every year to receive highly accurate diagnoses and quality care, more Haitian lab technicians to receive advanced training, and more original research to expand the existing body of knowledge on infectious and chronic diseases worldwide.

Peru: Study Aims to Reveal How TB Spreads
March 24, 2015

A study of TB’s spread in Peru enrolled about 18,500 people, including about 4,500 TB patients and 14,000 household members, with more than 90 percent of participants remaining in the study from beginning to end. At the peak of data collection, the study was employing 200 people and enrolling 1,000 new participants each month. 

MDR-TB in Children: A Q&A with PIH’s Dr. Mercedes Becerra
March 24, 2014

Dr. Mercedes Becerra, senior TB specialist at Partners In Health and associate professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, published a groundbreaking study in The Lancet. She and her colleagues estimated that 1 million children become sick with TB every year—double the number previously thought—and more than 30,000 children become sick every year with strains of MDR-TB.

Research on PIH Cholera Vaccination Project Released in Journal
October 9, 2013

Research reporting the results of Partners In Health’s cholera vaccination project in Haiti was released in a special section of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
The project was executed in collaboration with Haiti’s Ministry of Health and sought to vaccinate two vulnerable communities in the Artibonite region, and build support for using the vaccine more broadly.

PIH Highlights Impact and Research at AIDS 2012
July 24, 2012

At a conference highlighting breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention, PIH staff from Rwanda, Malawi, Haiti, and Boston presented evidence of how PIH and partners were working toward universal access to treatment and retention rates well above 90 percent. Evidence included results of a study of HIV-positive patients who received treatment at two clinics in Rwanda between 2005 and 2010.