HEALTH ALLIANCE International (HAI) is celebrating its 25th year of helping people in developing countries lead healthy lives. The organization has strengthened government-administered primary-care programs and fostered social, economic and health equity in Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, East Timor, Sudan and Ghana.
Stephen Gloyd, professor of global health and health services, founded the organization in 1987 with an initial grant from the earnings of Michael Jackson and Harry Belafonte’s Grammy-award winning song,“We are the World.” The idea for HAI, now an affiliated center of the UW Department of Global Health, was born out of Gloyd’s experience as a line worker for the health ministry in Mozambique in 1978. A native of Seattle and self-described “child of the ’60s,” Gloyd did his residency at the UW and became the physician for the Fremont Birth collective. He was also active in Zimbabwean music and sending material aid to Mozambique, which led to his initial work there.
HAI isn’t like Doctors Without Borders; they don’t fly in to areas of turmoil to render aid. HAI also isn’t like most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that come to a country, disperse money and supplies and then leave. HAI is all about primary health care and working with countries on what they determine are their needs. “We do lots of advocacy work; we are a justice and solidarity organization. Much of our teaching is based on this framework,” Gloyd says.
Working closely with colleagues in Africa, they are making a huge difference in the communities where they serve. HAI played a key support role for the Mozambique government in making AIDS treatment universal and free throughout the country. Treatment for HIV is now widely available and Gloyd believes universal elimination of infections passed from mothers to infants is possible. HAI has also helped government clinics across the globe to provide quality care in spite of crippling austerity measures imposed on them.
As HAI celebrates a milestone, it is also marking a major transition.
Gloyd, who has served as director since its inception, is turning the reins over to James Pfeiffer, associate professor of global health and anthropology. The commitment to universal access to quality health care, though, will carry on the legacy that has been built since 1987. —Julie Garner