The Kellogg Institute’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity recently honored Partners in Health (PIH), a non-profit organization whose healthcare initiatives include the distribution of contraceptives.  Co-founders Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, as well as Loune Viaud, the director of Strategic Planning and Operations for the Zanmi Lasante center, delivered an address and accepted the 2011 Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity at an April 27 ceremony.

In addressing women’s health, PIH’s family planning initiatives include contraception education, as well as the distribution of condoms and other contraceptive methods. In its Haiti centers, each clinic staffs a full-time nurse trained to provide reproductive counseling and promote family planning.

Referring to its Zanmi Lasante health clinic in Haiti, the PIH website states that “ZL has been offering free condoms and other contraceptive methods for over 15 years.”  Since 2003, women’s health agents travel outside of the clinics in Haiti, Rwanda, and Lesotho to educate women, distribute free contraceptives, and refer residents to the PIH clinics.

In Boston’s Hispanic community, PIH’s Fuerza Latina employees have provided over 9,000 safer sex kits.

With the motto “Whatever It Takes,” PIH’s mission is medical and moral solidarity with the poor.  Focusing on community-based health treatment, PIH identifies 6 primary problems: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, women’s health, children’s health, food insecurity, and a lack of local health workers in impoverished regions.

Founders Paul Farmer, Thomas J. White, Todd McCormack, Ophelia Dahl, and Jim Yong Kim established PIH in 1987 to address the health needs of the Haitian poor.  Farmer currently serves as the United Nations deputy special envoy to Haiti.

PIH’s efforts extend to 12 countries and include health clinics, training centers, health research with affiliates, and government lobbying. The group was widely recognized for its quick response in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti.

Regarding the decision to honor Partners in Health, the Ford Program’s press release cited the organization’s work towards Catholic social teaching of the “preferential option for the poor.”

In the same press release, Director of the Ford Program, Fr. Robert A. Dowd, CSC, stated that “their (PIH’s) work represents the values that are at the core of Notre Dame’s mission.  We want to honor the work of PIH so that it might continue to inspire Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni and friends to contribute in their own way to the healing and peace that our world needs.”

Regarding PIH’s promotion of contraceptives, Fr. Dowd reaffirmed the Ford Program’s selection in an email to The Rover.

“Their (PIH’s) life-enhancing efforts address the most serious health problems affecting women by decreasing maternal mortality, fighting HIV and AIDS, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, promoting healthy pregnancies and improving access to primary health care to allow women to live full and healthy lives,” he said.

PIH is the second recipient of the Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity. Last year’s recipients were Ray and Patti Chambers.  Ray Chambers is the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for malaria and cofounder of Millennium Promise, an international non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty.  Due to the organization’s promotion of abortion and contraception, University President Fr. John I. Jenkins’ former position on the organization’s board of trustees drew criticism from various Catholic groups, including the Cardinal Newman Society and the Sycamore Trust.

Stephanie shamelessly plugs NDSP’s Safewalk program at every opportunity.  Call (574) 631-5555 for a walk to any campus destination between 8:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.  Contact Stephanie at