Major Milestones in PIH History

Published by PIHC on

Partners In Health staff in Rwanda walk to a patient’s home in Burera District, Rwanda. (Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health)

Three decades ago, Partners In Health was formed to support the work begun in a small, rural community called Cange in Haiti’s Central Plateau. From there, it expanded across the country, then on to Peru and Russia, across Africa, and on to Mexico and the Navajo Nation. PIH Canada joined the movement in 2011, adding our voice to the fight for the right to health for all.

Through it all, PIH has kept patient care at the center of its work and fought for health care as a human right—both within individual countries and the halls where global health policy is created.

In the timeline below, read how PIH has grown, innovated, and pushed the boundaries of global health to ensure that every single person has access to high-quality care.

A view of a few of the building in Cange, Haiti in 1983


Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl begin operating a community clinic to provide free health care to the people of Cange, a small, rural village in Haiti.


Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, Dr. Jim Kim, Todd McCormack, and Thomas J. White found Partners In Health to support work providing health care to poor patients in Haiti.

Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl and Dr. Jim Kim together smiling
Dr. Paul Farmer stands with a patient


PIH launches the HIV Equity Initiative, which provides antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive patients in Haiti. Our example helps later inspire major organizations like the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and the World Health Organization to fund the fight against HIV in rich and poor countries alike.


PIH expands to Peru and begins supporting the government in battling an unchecked epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Our community-based MDR-TB treatment program sees an 80 percent cure rate, inspiring the World Health Organization to revise its treatment recommendations.

A doctor reviews a chest x-ray of a TB patient


PIH expands to Russia and begins supporting the government in fighting tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis epidemics, first in prisons and then throughout the community of Tomsk.


Tracy Kidder publishes Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book tracing the lives of PIH founders and our work in Haiti, Peru, and Russia.

The Mountains Beyond Mountains book on a person's lap
A medical record is scanned in front of a computer screen


PIH co-founds OpenMRS, an open-source electronic medical records software tailored for use in developing countries. Today, organizations and governments in 64 countries use OpenMRS.


PIH expands to Rwanda and partners with the government to bring high-quality health care to three of the country’s poorest regions. This includes oncology care at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which we open in 2012 to provide accessible, lifesaving cancer treatment to patients from Rwanda and east Africa.

A patient and doctor talk at the Butaro Cancer Center
A nurse take the blood pressure of a patient


PIH expands to Lesotho and begins supporting the government’s response to the HIV epidemic. We soon broaden our scope to treat tuberculosis, improve maternal health care, and, in 2014, become the government’s primary technical advisor on its National Health Reform, which is bringing the country closer to universal health coverage.


PIH expands to Malawi and begins collaborating with the government to provide comprehensive primary care to the rural poor. We build a brand new community hospital and two health centers that offer same-day consultation and care—including maternal health care and treatment for HIV, hypertension, malnutrition, and mental illness.

In-patient ward at a PIH clinic in Malawi
A community health worker sits with an elderly patient on their couch during a home visit


PIH expands to the Navajo Nation and establishes local partnerships to help improve community health and support community health representatives. In 2015, we help launch the Fruits and Vegetables Prescription program, which provides families—most of whom live a three-plus-hour drive away from a grocery store—free access to fresh, local produce.


PIH expands to Kazakhstan to support the government’s fight against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

A male doctor stands holding a notebook and wearing a surgical mask
A boy sits in the rubble of a collapsed building with a bus in the background


When a catastrophic 7.0-magnitude earthquake strikes Haiti, PIH provides lifesaving health care and social support to earthquake survivors.


Our global mental health care program launches, providing high-quality, culturally sound treatment for common and severe mental illnesses, from depression to schizophrenia.

Two women stand hugging


PIH expands to Mexico and begins collaborating with the government to help train new doctors, revitalize rural clinics, and maintain a force of community health workers, who specialize in areas like maternal health, depression, and diabetes.


PIH Canada opens as the first national awareness & fundraising office in the PIH family outside of the United States. We work in solidarity with PIH sister organizations around the world to deliver high quality health care for those who need it most.

PIH Canada staff and supporters pose together at a booth promoting PIH
A young women takes the oral cholera vaccine


After cholera is introduced to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, PIH conducts a cholera vaccination campaign that protects 50,000 people against the deadly disease. The campaign’s success inspires the World Health Organization to establish a global stockpile of oral cholera vaccine.


PIH opens University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, a 300-bed teaching hospital that provides advanced, high-quality care and offers specialized residency programs to train the next generation of clinicians.

View of the front of University Hospital
A PIH staff member cares for a patient at an Ebola treatment centre


Responding to history’s largest Ebola outbreak, PIH expands to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help end the epidemic and to support the government in strengthening the countries’ weak health systems.


PIH begins leading a partnership called endTB, which expands global access to new treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and conducts clinical trials to find shorter, less toxic, more effective drug regimens across multiple countries.

A doctor and patient shake hands over a desk
Graciela Cadet, Nightingale nursing fellow, receives an award at the Nightingale graduation


The first cohort of PIH global nurse leaders completes our inaugural Nightingale Fellowship, a program designed for nurse leaders to make system-wide impacts to improve patient care.


In Rwanda, PIH inaugurates the permanent campus of the University of Global Health Equity, which we founded in 2015. The university trains new generations of global health leaders by offering a graduate degree in global health delivery and, beginning this year, dual degrees in medicine and surgery to students from around the world.

A row of students sit at the UGHE graduation ceremony

Article originally posted on pih.org

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