Right To Health Care

RTHC patient Dave learns to write with his prosthetic limb. Learn more about Dave's journey.

 

Caring for patients with complex medical needs 

When a patient in Rwanda, Guatemala or rural Haiti requires life-saving medical treatment not available in their home country, PIH’s Right to Health Care (RTHC) program partners with hospitals and physicians in the U.S., Guatemala and other countries to provide high-quality medical care to those in need – a testament to our belief that health is a human right.

RTHC patient Sanley Jean teaches Top Chef Masters competitor Jody Adams how to cook goat. Read more.

RTHC staff accompany patients and family members throughout the treatment process, arranging for housing, clothing, educational needs, food and entertainment - all of this on top of caring for the patient's complex medical needs. Once the patient heals, staff arranges follow-up care in the patient's home country.

The RTHC program began in Haiti in the late 1980s. A small project that could help one patient at a time, today RTHC serves dozens of patients at once. Caring for 23 patients 2009, the number of injuries caused by the Haiti earthquake nearly doubled RTHC's size to 41 patients. That event altered not only the scope of the program but also transformed the types of procedures we cared for.

 

Who does RTHC treat?

RTHC patient, Norbert.

Meet Norbert Tibeau (left), a seminarian and RTHC patient treated for an aneurysm after Haiti's 2010 earthquake. Read more.

Historically, RTHC patients suffered from neurological disorders, congenital heart defects and rheumatic heart disease, cancer, advanced infections, and birth defects. In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, however, our priorities shifted towards caring for those suffering from crush injuries and those needing amputations and spinal surgeries.  

All of our patients come from countries where PIH works. We encounter our patients through visits at our clinical sites and referrals from partnering physicians, non-profit organizations, and individuals.

 

Accompaniment abroad

RTHC relies on the generosity of hospitals and doctors who donate their services and resources to provide free care (from treatment abroad to follow-up at home) as well as the dedication and support of the communities where patients seek care.

Once a hospital agrees to provide free care, RTHC arranges travel and housing for the patient. Once the patient arrives, RTHC ensures nutritional support, pharmaceutical assistance, medical interpretation, transportation, education and other support services for our patients and their families as they undergo and recover from treatment. 

 

Philadelphia's ABC affiliate spends time with PIH's RTHC patients a year after the earthquake.

What happens after treatment?

After treatment, our patients return to their home countries where PIH has partnered for years with local public health systems, doctors, nurses and rehabilitation staff to provide continuing care. With projects large and small underway to bolster health systems in countries such as Haiti and Rwanda, our capacity to provide long-term follow-up care to RTHC patients who have returned home is becoming even stronger. 

 

Opportunities to help