Partners in Health Engage calls for action in Congress


Senior Amiel Katz advocates for Covid-19 funding on a Zoom call with Representative Lizzie Fletcher. Courtesy of Amiel Katz.

Sophia Hernandez, Features Editor

As she listens to Representative Lizzie Fletcher’s pre-recorded instructions on how to leave a message, senior Amiel Katz quickly reviews the script in her head. The recording tone rings, and she begins her speech.

To strengthen her argument for new policies, Katz shares personal anecdotes about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting her neighbors and family both emotionally and financially. Before hanging up, Katz ends her speech by urging Representative Fletcher to advocate for COVID-19 relief funding in Congress, drawing cheers from her fellow Partners in Health members watching on a Google Meets call. 

“You have to call because most people don’t want to call their politicians,” Katz said. “When you take affirmative action, that’s when our representatives really see we’re trying to make a difference.” 

On Oct. 6, the Bellaire Partners in Health Engage team launched the year’s first fundraising campaign and discussed the global chapter’s annual goals. Club president Amiel Katz also demonstrated how to contact local representatives through phone calls. 

One of only three other official high school chapters in Texas, the Bellaire chapter – which works with global PIH – met four times during the summer to discuss the upcoming yearly campaigns.

On Sept. 29, the chapter met for the first time this year during Cardinal Hour on Google Meets, drawing in the attention of new members. President Amiel Katz opened the meeting with a powerpoint outlining the three primary advocacy goals.

“The initial meeting went well,” Katz said. “We had almost 20 people show up, and it was a good mixture of new and returning faces. After the meeting, we also had a lot of new people join our Remind group.”

Officers started with a fundraiser for the Partners in Health Sierra Leone Maternal Center of Excellence (MCoE). According to a study by the World Health Organization, women in Sierra Leone have a one in 17 lifetime risk of dying from a maternal cause, and the club members hope to change that by providing funds for HIV and pre-eclampsia screening. Their goal is to raise $1,000 by the end of November by emailing potential donors their campaign pages. 

“I showed a video at the meeting of John Green talking about our fundraiser, and a lot of people know him from Crash Course,” Katz said. “People really liked the video, and I hope it leads them to opening their own Partners in Health fundraising page.” 

Katz also urged new members to take action by following her example and reaching out to their local representatives. 

“Email the congressperson’s staffer and ask to set up a meeting with them or a congressperson,” Katz said. “Ask them if they would commit to supporting our proposed bills, and ask if they will commit to cosponsoring the COVID-19 bill. You can also email your representative a baseline email to show support as a call to action.”

PIH will meet again on Oct. 13 during Cardinal Hour. They remain active on their Remind group, @pihb, as well as their Instagram page, @bhspih. 

Although the ability to return to face-to-face instruction remains undecided, Katz does not anticipate shortcomings in the Bellaire PIH Engage chapter’s ability to achieve its annual goals. 

“We’ve always had a global impact no matter whether we’re in person or not because our events are based on mostly doing stuff outside of school,” Katz said. “So, it’s even easier now, because Congresspeople are more likely to meet with us because it’s just a phone call and they’re also at home. And then fundraising remains the typical online fundraising we do so nothing’s changed. We’re set for a pretty good year.” 

Founded in 1967, Partners In Health is a global humanitarian organization driven by the belief that everyone, especially those most in need, deserves quality health care. PIH operates through adult and youth chapters across the United States, according to their website

All PIH chapters work toward the same set of goals set by the global committee at the beginning of the year. For the 2020-2021 year, PIH set three primary advocacy goals: Get Congress to pass two proposed bills, the first approving $75 billion for the U.S. COVID-19 response and the second approving $20 billion for the global COVID-19 response. Its third goal outlined an advocacy movement to have local representatives co-sponsor a bill to make medications affordable by preventing price gouging and track acts.