- Making house calls to people with tuberculosis living in shacks in remote southwestern Siberia.
- Traversing the dusty roads of Crystal, New Mexico, to deliver medicine to elderly members of the Navajo Nation.
- Training local health professionals to treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.
- Opening a rehabilitation center in Haiti, so that people who were injured or lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake can resume productive lives.
All of this is what takes place in a long day’s work for the army of nurses, doctors, community health workers, and other professionals deployed around the globe by Partners In Health.
This inspiring, longstanding commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable among us is why we are proud that Partners In Health will receive the 2015 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. The award recognizes an individual or organization whose portfolio of work has significantly mitigated the social determinants of health in the US and/or abroad, and whose commitment to service influences and inspires others.
Partners In Health was founded in 1987 by Ophelia Dahl, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Todd McCormack, and the late Tom White—a committed and compassionate group who exemplify Albert Schweitzer’s call to “search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.” What began as an initiative to bring health care to the residents of Haiti’s remote and mountainous Central Plateau—the poorest region in the country—has since expanded to become a global leader in providing health care to the poor. (CLICK HERE to learn more about the founders of Partners In Health. CLICK HERE to learn more about the history of Partners In Health and its work around the world.)
With a mission it calls “both medical and moral” that is based on “solidarity, rather than charity alone,” Partners In Health operates according to four simple principles: a willingness to deliver health care in the most remote places, where options for care are limited or practically non-existent; a commitment to making house calls in order to deliver medication and guide patients through treatment; a commitment to working with governments and other partners to improve and expand health services; and a willingness to make long-term commitments to the communities it serves.
This last principle is most recently evidenced by the work the organization is doing to help West Africa rebuild its health care system in the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Partners In Health is working with the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone to either upgrade existing medical facilities or build brand new ones. In Liberia, Dr. Farmer envisions a “world-class teaching hospital” to replace the current J.J. Dossen Memorial Hospital in the coastal town of Harper, which currently does not even have an X-ray machine. With completion of such a facility years away, Partners In Health is meanwhile fixing plumbing, electricity, and a leaky roof at J.J. Dossen, in addition to restocking medicines and assisting local nursing students prepare for licensing exams that were put off during the Ebola crisis. As part of its plan to modernize the hospital, Partners In Health is bringing in clinicians to train staff and working with a local university to create new methods for teaching medical students.
The Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism is given annually in conjunction with the Schweitzer Leadership Conference. The Schweitzer Leadership Awards Ceremony and Reception will take place Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 from 6-10pm at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Boston.