Category Archives: Health Care

Video: #StandUp with AmeriCares

This summer, our interns explored how crisis, disaster and poverty affect health care for millions of people. They wondered: “What if it were us?”

Share their video and #StandUp with them to help make the world a healthier place for more people every day.

An AmeriCares Sample Pack

After a week of my internship at AmeriCares, I found myself swimming in a pile of papers, project proposals, and pamphlets. I had abandoned taking notes almost entirely—there was too much cool stuff to write down anyway. With 3,000 local partners worldwide in 90 countries, the global reach of Americares is both interesting and complex.

So, for you, I have compiled the “AmeriCares 7-Dose Sample Pack” — small doses from the AmeriCares portfolio that provide a wider insight into the complexity of the work we do.

Dose 1: Constantly Truckin’ Along

AmeriCares sends an average of 10 aid shipments each day by air, sea and road – and each year our warehouse in Stamford, CT turns over 9 times. This means the warehouse, which is 51,800 square feet, is filled with completely new medications and supplies 9 times a year. To give some perspective, this warehouse is larger than an NFL football field, which is only 43,560 square feet!

Dose 2: Affordable Health Care on the Homefront

AmeriCares operates 3 free clinics across the state of Connecticut, and will soon open a fourth – bringing quality, compassionate health care services to the uninsured and underinsured in AmeriCares home state. The clinics have permanent locations in Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Danbury; the new clinic will be located in Stamford, CT. Simple impact math: each DOLLAR given to the clinics provides FOUR DOLLARS worth of medical care.

Dose 3: A Primary Care Hub in India

At 12 locations over 15-day cycles, families living in the congested slums of Mumbai receive a unique opportunity—an opportunity to receive quality health care and free medication from mobile medical clinics run by the AmeriCares India team. In the most recent year of operation, the clinics provided care to 36,000 patients. But, this is only a small fraction of our work in country. Across India AmeriCares serves an estimated 10 million people in 21 Indian states with the help of 55 partner organizations. From the mobile clinics in Mumbai to disaster relief in Uttarakhand, Americares is there ready to support health care in India.

Dose 4: Combating Cancer in Cambodia

Through a partnership with AstraZeneca, AmeriCares is working in Cambodia to combat breast cancer — the leading cancer killer of women worldwide. At the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE in Phnom Penh, breast cancer treatment is coupled with caregiver training and patient education programs. The comprehensive initiative aims to raise awareness, improve early detection, and increase survival rates. In Cambodia, where an alarming number of women die each year as a result of breast cancer, often due to lack of awareness and high cost of treatment – this program makes a lifesaving difference.

Dose 5: Famines, Floods, and Cholera

Disaster—the word is both ambiguous and broad. But, when famine was declared in the Horn of Africa, AmeriCares was there with enough crucial medicines, supplies, and water purification to reach 180,000 people. When catastrophic flooding struck Pakistan, displacing more than 2 million people, we delivered more than $6 million in emergency aid. As cholera outbreaks occur across the globe, we combat the disease, which spreads rapidly in crowded camps after disaster strikes, by delivering treatments and supporting prevention training in Haiti, the Horn of Africa, Sierra Leone and worldwide.

Dose 6: Healthy Steps with TOMS Shoes

Health goes beyond taking the right medications and making the right appointments. For the children coming to the AmeriCares family clinic in El Salvador, good health continues with a new pair of TOMS Shoes. Since 2010, AmeriCares has worked with TOMS to deliver new shoes to impoverished children in several countries around the world — including Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Armenia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Through its socially conscious One for One® model, the new TOMS Shoes these children receive will be replaced as they grow, to protect them from cuts, infections and soil-transmitted ailments like hookworms. Today, the children can tread softly and more safely toward better health.

Dose 7: When the Pain Doesn’t Wash Away, AmeriCares is There

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast —but just because the storm has passed does not mean that the devastation is over in the hearts and minds of survivors.

“Mental health services are often one of the most significant unmet needs after a disaster of this magnitude,” explained Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of Emergency Response. We’ve supported several programs that address this need – including counseling programs run by the YMCA in two-hard hit areas to help children cope with anxiety and trauma. Similar programs continue in Japan, to promote the mental well-being of survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. These programs are a crucial part of the recovery after the initial emergency response.

Giving Birth to Life

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While “Royal Baby” fever swept through the world,  countless other babies were born in less comfortable – and often dangerous — environments.

Dying to give birth

In Afghanistan, an impoverished country ravaged by years of war and violence, nearly 85 percent of women give birth with no access to medical services. As a result, 1 in 6 Afghan women dies in childbirth. Babies do not fare much better — infant mortality rates in the country are the third highest in the world.

This alarming statistic has not gone unnoticed by AmeriCares.  Our work to help mothers and babies has helped save lives.

Simple items reduce the danger

Because it is quite difficult for many impoverished women in Afghanistan to get to a hospital to deliver their babies, AmeriCares has partnered with American Medical Overseas Relief to donate clean birth kits to Afshar Hospital in Kabul.

The birth kits provide necessary resources to ensure a safe and healthy delivery at home. They include hand sanitizer, bulb syringe for mucus extraction, two sets of gloves, and under pad, a cord clamp, and a scalpel. The hospital’s Community Outreach and Patient Education (COPE) program reaches out to the most impoverished and isolated communities near to Kabul. Along with providing the birth kits, the organization connects home health workers with expectant moms to educate and raise awareness the significant health concerns and opportunities to ensure a safe birthing experience.

Outreach, delivery, and post-natal care

During the outreach process, COPE’s health workers encourage each expectant mother to attend the clinic for prenatal check-ups. For the first visit, the expectant mom and the hospital health worker exchange contact information.  The mother-to-be contacts the health work when labor begins, and the health worker travels to the woman’s home with a clean birth kit to assist with delivery. Both mother and child return to the clinic within the first week of delivery for a postnatal check-up and further services if necessary.

Through this process, AmeriCares expects to reduce neonatal mortality by 15 percent and maternal mortality by 5 percent.

In England, Prince George came into this world in a renowned hospital with the help of skilled medical professionals.  Here in the United States, we don’t give a second thought to the fact that we are able to give birth in sanitary, fully equipped hospitals with the help of doctors, nurses or midwives. In Afghanistan and many other countries, women face less than ideal circumstances, delivering their babies on dirt floors with no light and no medical help if something were to go wrong.

Working with partners in Afghanistan to deliver these kits and connect mothers with medical resources, AmeriCares has brought a better opportunity for birth, safety and life to women and the children they love.

“Who Are We To Sit Idly By?”

John F. Kennedy once said that, “in the final analysis, our most basic common link is the fact that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

I believe that to bring about a solution to the strife and conflict that plagues our world, we must recognize most basic of commonalities. We are all human.

What differentiates the health outcomes of a child from an impoverished family in sub-Saharan Africa and the child of a doctor or a banker here in the U.S.? The simple answer: Where and when they are born. Birth — an unforgiving lottery — is often judge, jury and executioner. Every day 21,000 children die, from starvation, from disease, from war and from abuse. Yet so many people sit idly by despite the need for help, for health, for life. We cannot change every factor in an environment, but the scope of a conflict or problem should not disarm us. We would move mountains to save our own children. Are we not torn asunder at the spectacle of their pain? Then when regarding the unforgiving lottery that is birth, why is it that so many people can label a conflict or injustice as “isolated?” Poverty, disease, war — these are not environments children choose to be born into, these are not insulated by walls chosen by the downtrodden. They are isolated in that people refuse their commonality, deny their fortune of birth and unwittingly wall the poor, the sick and the conflicted within barricades that forever grow. We are here, they are there: more importantly, we are here, not there.

It’s our duty to stand up 

AmeriCares’ founder Bob Macauley championed “The Starfish Story” – a story of a boy who believed in making a difference, one life at a time. Similarly, the scope of a problem is not a justification for inaction. We often hear that a problem is too big or too obscure for any individual or organization to make a difference. This has proven to be a dangerous and sometimes fatal misconception. One act by one person may only alter the life of one person or it may alter the lives of one hundred; regardless of magnitude, opportunity is birthed from  what was perceived to be abandoned.

Where do we fit in? We are the bearers of hope and change to those who had no reason to believe. We are AmeriCares. We are no different than other people. We are human just as they are. So, what makes us so profoundly different? The answer is nothing; we are neither superheroes, rich, nor powerful. However, we embrace the commonalities that bind us and disregard the barriers between us. We do what we do, because we know that any change for the better  is progress.  Regardless of the capacity by which we can deliver humanitarian aid to help people in need – the fact that we stand up and do what we do, as efficiently and effectively as we possibly can – is what makes the difference.

“In the final analysis, our most basic common link is the fact that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

-John F. Kennedy

Speech at The American University
Washington D.C., June 10, 1963