Partners In Health (PIH) was originally founded as a community health project in Haiti in 1987 and has since expanded to sites in a dozen countries. The main goals of the organization are to provide quality health care to those most in need, while working to alleviate the causes of disease and to share lessons more broadly. PIH partners with governments to build effective health systems, as well as works to train members of the local community. The great majority of the 13,000 people who work for PIH are community health workers typically called accompagnateurs – “those who accompany.” This approach is deeply informed by Catholic Social Teaching and the work of Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez. PIH’s approach to service through accompaniment is a vision shared by an increasing number of development organizations, among them the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), Catholic Relief Services, and Caritas International.
Definition of Problem
How do we render more visible the concept and work of Accompaniment? Over the past two years, the Kellogg Institute has organized a project called “From Aid to Accompaniment” to explore and enhance the understanding of the concept of accompaniment. Public Affairs will publish a book on accompaniment in the spring 2017. The lead author is Dr. Paul Farmer, and Steve Reifenberg and Jennie Block are co-editors. The title will be (something like) “A Partnership with the Poor: A Radical New Vision for More Effective Aid, Philanthropy, and Services.” The launching the book in spring 2017 provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the accompaniment concept. There will likely a book conference at ND in the fall 2017. The DAT will have access to manuscript as well as other related materials.
Initial Ideas and Options
Review the Kellogg Institute’s existing work on accompaniment http://kellogg.nd.edu/events/calendar/spring2016/accompaniment.shtml and the previous DAT projects through the International Development in Practice class https://intdev.squarespace.com/partners-in-health/
Survey "what works" to build the understanding and practice of accompaniment by health care providers- what is being done to teach and foster accompaniment as a practice and value right now in current education programs? Speak with health care educators, curriculum designers and others who are training practitioners in the field.
Explore the multiplicity of ways to share awareness and expand engagement of accompaniment through social media, film, advocacy campaigns, leadership development, etc. Think creatively. One past DAT developed a curriculum on accompaniment for GlobeMed, while another explored lessons from successful social movements.
Imagine the concept of accompaniment serving as a feature of training and leadership development programs, exploring ways the practice of accompaniment is teachable and provides a pragmatic approach to implementing patient-centered thinking, community/family engagement, local empowerment and long term, sustainable health care improvement and systems change.
How can the forthcoming book, conference, and related activities engage people in thinking about and better understanding accompaniment?
Development Advisory Team