We ask the people in the communities we serve what ails them and then do whatever it takes to make them well, just as we would if a member of our own family, or we ourselves, were ill.

Service is the defining feature of PIH’s work, our trademark. Since our inception, it has served as a philosophy, an emblem, and a guide. We serve our patients, their communities, and the cause of equitable access to health care and other basic human rights. Inspired by the liberation theology movement that brought purpose and hope to millions of people in Latin America during the 1980s, we practice pragmatic solidarity, standing with our patients in their struggle for health and social justice.

Our service to the destitute sick often starts with providing medical care for diseases and conditions that are common and lethal to the poor, even though they are relatively rare and routinely treatable for the privileged. Whether they are suffering from diarrhea or AIDS, obstructed labor or drug-resistant tuberculosis, people come to us because they are sick and because they know, often for the first time, that they will not be turned away because they cannot pay. The medical care we provide can range from the simple act of providing nutritional supplements to airlifting a dying child to Boston for emergency treatment unavailable in rural Haiti or Rwanda.

Our service starts with medical care. But it doesn't end there. When we listen to our patients, we hear not only about symptoms that can be treated with medicines but about conditions of crippling poverty in which disease spreads and kills. Our service must be as comprehensive as our patients' needs.

Working with partners in the community, we provide treatment for general medical conditions and for more complex diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis. We also work to improve access to food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, education and economic opportunities. We provide monthly food packages to needy patients and their families. We replace tumble-down shacks made of sticks, mud and leaves with modest but sturdy homes with tin roofs and concrete floors. We build spring caps and fountains, giving our communities reliable sources of safe drinking water. We provide access to the financial support, supplies and training that patients need to return to their fields or to launch small workshops, businesses and other income-generating activities.

We listen, we learn, we serve.

Whatever it takes.


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