• Awarded: 2008
  • Issue Areas: Health · Health Delivery
  • Region: Caribbean · Central America · Central and Southern Asia · Eastern and Southern Africa · Eastern Asia · Europe · Middle East and North Africa · North America · South America · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    The mission of Partners in Health is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners In Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair.

    They draw on the resources of the world’s leading medical and academic institutions and on the lived experience of the world’s poorest and sickest communities. At its root, their mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone.

    When Partners in Health’s patients are ill and have no access to care, their team of health professionals, scholars, and activists will do whatever it takes to make them well – just as we would do if a member of our own families or we ourselves were ill.

    Despite advances in medicine and health care in recent decades, access to quality care remains a luxury reserved for the rich in many places.

    PiH health workers accompany patients through treatment and help them take charge of their health.

    Dr. Paul Farmer seeks to build healthcare institutions in resource-poor settings by mobilizing talent, funding, and supplies, engaging and influencingthe global health community.

    PiH is making medical care available to 2.4 million people in 11 countries.

    Ambition for Change

    Delivery of quality health care made possible anywhere in the world; access to care comes to be considered a basic human right.

    Path to Scale

    Demonstration, Replication, Policy Reform
    PIH builds healthcare institutions in resource-poor settings by mobilizing talent, funding and supplies; leverages success to access and influence the global health community; and engages media and leading academic institutions to redefine complicated and entrenched institutions.

    Business Model

    Philanthropic support of community-based programs providing direct service and demonstrating the model; advocacy and technical support to bring innovations into broader systems.

    As a young man, Paul Farmer picked citrus fruit in Florida, learning firsthand about the conditions Haitian migrant laborers endured. He traveled to Haiti just before entering medical school. Observing the misery of life for the poor, he decided to act, taking to heart Rudolf Virchow’s injunction that “physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor.” He founded PIH and started work in Haiti in 1987. Paul set out to prove that cost-effective, high-quality health care could be delivered in the most challenging contexts, through an innovative model of care in which local health workers accompany patients through their treatment, delivering services to patients in their homes, addressing needs for food, housing and safe water, and empowering community members to take charge of their health. Success in Haiti attracted attention from the global health community and influenced policies of the World Health Organization for treating multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Paul forged an academic and medical discipline around the concept of global health equity, creating the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at a leading teaching hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 1997 he created the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School, and developed the Institute for Health and Social Justice, an advocacy and teaching branch of PIH. In the year of the Skoll Award, PIH was replicating its program in Lesotho, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda, Russia, and the United States, recorded more than 2 million patient visits, and was successfully treating 12,758 HIV patients with antiretroviral therapy.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Expanded service delivery to provide lifesaving medical care to 2.4 million people in 11 countries by 2014, employing 2,422 medical staff and 8,301 health workers.
    • Provides training materials and technical support to numerous health programs practicing the model worldwide.
    • Priority programs have developed and demonstrated approaches to cancer and chronic disease, cholera, HIV/AIDS, surgery, women’t and children’s health, community health workers, mental health, and TB.
    • Operates hospitals and health facilities including teaching hospitals in Haiti, Rwanda, Lesotho, and Malawi.
    • Partnered with other organizations and WHO to train workers and establish facilities to treat Ebola.


    Cassia van der Hoof HolsteinChief Partnership Integration Officer, Partners In Health
    Ken HimmelmanChief Program Officer, Partners In Health
    Neo TapelaDirector of Non-Communicable Diseases, Partners In Health
    Peter DrobacExecutive Director, Partners In Health

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