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People Helping People

Progressive Health Partnership was founded by Joshua Greenberg and Eddie Zhang, as freshmen at Duke University, in November of 2007. From the beginning, Greenberg and Zhang knew that PHP would need to focus on both the biological determinants and the social and economic determinants of health problems. They also knew that PHP would need to bring a critical, evaluative perspective to the delivery of its services. Over time, they learned of the tremendous scope of health problems throughout the world and recognized the need for PHP to take a comprehensive approach to improving the health of the poor.

Greenberg and Zhang began establishing contacts across the Duke campus to form a network of support. Realizing that they were only beginning their entrance into global health, they sought the assistance of experts such as Professors Sumedha Ariely and Alessandro Tarozzi and began to become well-versed in the global health literature. By January of 2008, they formed a core group of students to spearhead PHP’s formation. As time progressed, the core group established PHP’s structure, purpose, and long-term goals, and chartered the group as a student organization at Duke. In February of 2008, the group of students met Dr. Alex Cho, a professor at Duke’s School of Medicine who has gone on to make incredible contributions and provide tremendous mentorship as PHP has developed. Two weeks later, Dr. Cho introduced the students to a physician he was hosting from Uganda, Benon Mugerwa. It was Dr. Mugerwa who generously went on to introduce the PHP team to impoverished rural communities in Uganda, where PHP would begin its work.

Over the next seven months, the PHP team sought funding to begin supportive health service delivery in collaboration with the Ugandan government. By October of 2008, PHP had obtained a large portion of the necessary funding for starting a small project, and in November the organization officially began to open itself up to the general student body at Duke. PHP’s first official board of directors was established in April of 2009, and in the summer of the same year, PHP began its first work in Uganda. PHP began the Safe Motherhood Initiative, which provided prenatal services, including ultrasound scans, to pregnant women in rural areas. The organization also conducted a broad needs assessment to lay the groundwork for the future.

After concluding its first round of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, PHP undertook an ambitious agenda. In working hard to apply for grants and raise funds, the organization began to pursue many recommendations it received from community members, including a large-scale rainwater harvesting project and the expansion of its maternal and neonatal health efforts. In 2010, PHP received status as a U.S. non-profit organization, and in 2012, the organization registered as a non-governmental organization in Uganda.