Partners in Health

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Partners in Health (Kreyòl: Zanmi Lasanté) provides free health care to about a million Haitians. Founder Paul Farmer refused to accept deaths from multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) among his patients, and created the practice of Directly Observed Therapy for treating MDR-TB, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases requiring long-term treatment. In Directly Observed Therapy, a local health worker watches the patient take the medicine each day until treatment is complete. Many patients had previously stopped taking medicine when they felt better, even though the infection was not eradicated, thus allowing the infection to increase again. The result was the creation of resistant strains of bacteria.

PIH has expanded into Peru, Lesotho, Rwanda, Malawi, and Russia. Its program for MDR-TB treatment in Peru convinced the World Health Organization to recommend treatment for MDR-TB in developing countries, rather than its previous policy of letting patients die untreated. Previously WHO had calculated that the high rate of failure and the creation of more resistant infections made the cost/benefit ratio for treating MDR-TB too high. WHO therefore recommended that available funds for health care in developing countries should be directed elsewhere.

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