Skoll Foundation


Partners in Health

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Dr. Paul Farmer
Award Year: 2008
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Healthcare Access and Treatment

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Growing up in Florida, Paul Farmer took a job picking citrus where he learned firsthand about the bitter conditions Haitian migrant laborers endured. On his first trip to Haiti, he witnessed the misery of life for the poor. Instead of being overwhelmed by what he observed, Paul set out to prove that cost-effective, high-quality health care could be delivered in the most hopeless of contexts. He founded Partners in Health (PIH) and started working in Haiti in 1987. In addition to building a community-based health care system, he forged an academic and medical discipline around the concept of global health equity and created the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School. In 1993, Paul received a MacArthur Award and developed an advocacy and teaching branch of PIH with the award money. He is inspiring a new generation of practitioners in health and social justice.


  • PIH is working with two other organizations on Ebola to
    • Train, equip and support 800 community health workers to carry out community-based education, prevention, case detection, contact tracing and essential health services in 500 villages.
    • Train, equip and support 500 health workers across 47 primary health centers and establish four Ebola Treatment Centers.
    • Establish a national training center in Bong County and provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Health to support coordination and health systems strengthening efforts.
    • Support the creation of best practices for a regional technical Ebola treatment and care task force convened by the World Bank.
  • PIH “Priority Programs” include cancer and chronic disesase, cholera, HIV/AIDS, surgery, women’s  health, child health, community health workers, mental health and TB.
  • On April 28, 2013, PIH opened the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais in Haiti, a 205,000-square foot, 300-bed facility.
  • Their Haitian mobile clinics have seen more than 33,000 patients since spring 2013, referring more than 450 people who tested positive for HIV to receive further care.
  • They provide lifesaving medical care to 2.4 million people worldwide in 11 countries. They employ at least 2,422 medical staff, 8,301 community health workers and 3,805 non-medical staff.
  • In Sept. 2013, PIH co-founders released a new book on global health.
  • In Rwanda alone, they have served 865,000 people through three hospitals and 40 health centers with the help of 4,500 community health workers. In August 2013, a new extension of the cancer center opened, called the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center. A study of PIH’s HIV treatment efforts in Rwanda found that PIH’s patients were more likely to be retained in care, less likely to die, and less likely to be lost to follow-up when compared with patients in care at other facilities. In fact, more than 92 percent of PIH patients were still enrolled in care two years after they began HIV treatment.
  • In Lesotho, their rural health facilities bring health care to nearly 200,000 people. A 2012 study confirmed PIH’s success rates are among the world’s best for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis – the country’s first-ever treatment program for MDR-TB. With its World Food Program, PIH is also providing nutritional support for HIV and TB patients, pregnant women, malnourished children and others who show clinical signs of malnutrition.
  • In 2012, PIH began a pilot project to strengthen services for pregnant women. In 2013, 1,326 babies were born in PIH-supported health care facilities in Lesotho.
  • In 2012, PIH and Riders for Health announced they will work together to strengthen health care coverage in the Neno District of Malawi.  Riders will manage a portion of PIH’s vehicles, allowing PIH to focus its resources on the District’s two hospitals and 11 health centers, which serve 110,000.
  • In 2012, they vaccinated an entire flood-prone rural commune, while a local partner vaccinated an urban slum population (total of 100,000 people).
  • PIH has begun replication of its model in six countries on four continents. Numerous programs worldwide access PIH’s training materials and receive technical support from PIH’s clinical and program staff.



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