Partners In Health is a remarkable global public health organization, insisting on quality health care as a basic right. This film delves deeply into their methods and beliefs, exploring the controversial characters that refuse to 'choose one life over another, when there is all this wealth in the world.'
In 1998, the world believed that treating HIV and TB in poor countries was an impossible task. Most public health experts said it simply could not be done. A senior USAID official said, "We cannot get it done because of conflicts, because of lack of infrastructure, lack of doctors, lack of hospitals, lack of clinics, lack of electricity."Partners In Health, a global public health charity founded 30 years ago in rural Haiti, ignored the experts and treated their patients with the highest-level care, the kind normally reserved for those with far greater geographic luck. Beyond that, they innovated by training local Haitians to administer medications daily and provide social support. This was the world's first program to provide free, comprehensive HIV care and treatment in an impoverished setting. Documenting their work meticulously, they proved that it could be done. Writer Tracey Kidder captured the remarkable process in his bestseller MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS, profiling the charismatic and determined PIH team whose demonstrated success contributed to the turning point on the issue - the 2001 UN Summit on HIV/AIDS - and more importantly the subsequent formation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a public-private partnership to finance the fight against the world's deadliest infectious diseases. Now PIH is once again at a pivotal moment that could determine whether millions live or are left to die due to mythical reasons for inaction. In September 2011, the UN will convene its second-ever summit on a healthcare issue, focused on what is quickly being branded as the next big global health emergency: non-communicable diseases or "NCDS." NCDs (cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, etc) account for 60% of global deaths. The largest burden - 80% - occurs in low and middle-income countries, making NCDs a major cause of poverty and an urgent development issue. The UN Summit agenda so far is focused primarily on "middle income" (such as China & India) countries' needs - in particular preventing "issues of emerging affluence" such as smoking and obesity.But the truth is that NCDs kill the poorest among us most of all. Malnutrition leads to diabetes just as overeating does. Untreated sore throats caused by strep lead to rheumatic fever, which leads to mitral heart disease, killing thousands of children every year but so easily preventable with simple medicine readily available in other countries. Once again, PIH is once again pushing us to expand our idea of health care justice. This film follows this discourse-changing moment through the eyes of a range of characters with a stake in the outcome from a courageous young cardiac patient in Rwanda to a determined community health worker caring for a cancer patient in post-quake rural Haiti to the remarkable team of Global Health & Social Justice physician/advocates of PIH who believe their mission is both medical and moral.