Working through hospitals, clinics and other health facilities, we can reduce preventable illness and death and improve overall individual and family health at the community level. This clinic-to-community model links treatment services to disease prevention and health education. We are developing and providing proven systems of care for newborn, maternal and child health, mental health, diabetes and hypertension. And the cornerstone of much of our work in each community focuses on empowering, informing and educating community health workers and leaders - building a stronger health care system so they can become the critical link connecting their community to good health and beyond.
Health at the Center of the Community
Building community health begins with meeting people in the community “where they are”. Our work involves careful and purposeful listening to members of the community who are active in a community network that includes those most affected by a health challenge, then identifying resources and developing plans that reflect the unique needs and aspirations of that community. Health programs rise out of the unique circumstances of the individual community and revolve around support for a local health center. Americares invests in local health centers: When local health centers thrive, so do people in their communities—with better health, more opportunities and increasingly productive lives.
- To improve maternal and child health in Liberia for example, traditional midwives played an important role in building trust for a maternal and child clinic that we opened. The result: more safe deliveries, healthy moms and babies.
- To address the growing threat from diabetes and hypertension in our local communities, we discovered that people who lacked health care access needed longer term support to manage chronic disease and that gave rise to the Health Coach program at Americares Free Clinic in Danbury CT
- As part of an increasing mental health focus on the frontlines of our emergency response programs, we are training health workers and first responders in places such as Puerto Rico and Philippines to better identify, assess and respond to the mental health and psychosocial needs of patients in communities at risk.
- A healthier community needs a stronger health system. In Nepal, Philippines, Dominica and many other places around the world we are building back better, stronger, more sustainable – dozens of health centers, while training and supporting health workers to provide quality care.
Diabetes and Hypertension
Diabetes and hypertension can lead to serious health problems, often leading to disability and death. With the growing crisis of chronic disease in the United States and around the world, particularly in developing countries, Americares is providing critical resources for local health care providers to prevent, manage and treat these major health threats. At our Family Clinic in El Salvador, the staff tirelessly pursue educational outreach programs to help the community prevent and manage chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. And in Americares Free Clinics in Connecticut, we have introduced a health coach program as part of a comprehensive approach to good health management for the uninsured. Good health is more than just meds.
Survivors benefit from a partnership.
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That’s the number of people that currently suffer from mental illness, among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
More than 43 million people in the U.S. are living with mental illness, and nearly half go without treatment. In developing countries, the treatment gap rockets sky-high to 90 percent. People with mental illness are twice as likely to be poor and uninsured as compared to the general population.
Kevin found care at one of 88 clinics in the U.S. supported by Americares with a unique program that donates medicine and personal care products to behavioral health centers.
Training health workers in Puerto Rico.
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Maternal and Child Health
At no other time is the need for immediate quality medical care more crucial than at birth and during the first years of a child’s life.
Hundreds of expectant mothers seeking health care at Americares clinics in Colombia.
Protecting the most vulnerable
In Liberia , Kosovo, India and many other countries around the world, including the U.S., where mothers and children are at risk, we focus on local health workers, supporting them with the resources they need to expand local health facilities and services, giving more mothers and their children a safer path to a healthier future.
1093 healthy babies
In one year, 1093 babies were delivered in new maternal and child health facilities supported by Americares in Liberia
Q: Why have 25,000 people flocked to remote Grand Bassa County, Liberia? A: Diamonds. If you sift enough sand, you might find a few tiny gems or even a large one, enough carats to make you rich or able to build a house. John Logan Town exists because of this dream. Five years ago it was just a place to cross the river. The town's health clinic is the other reason people walk four hours or more to reach John Logan Town. Originally built to isolate Ebola cases (there were none here thankfully), it's now supported by Americares to provide primary care with a focus on maternal, newborn and child health. A gem of hope by the river.
"Let the light continue to shine in the community. Don't let the light go out."
Patience, a community health volunteer at Zondo Clinic, lives about a two-hour walk from the clinic with her 15-year old son and would like to continue her studies and become a nurse.
“The clinic helps us a lot. Before, people used to get sick and the only way to get care was to get out of the area; there was no one to attend to them. If there was no car [to take them to the nearest hospital – a 3-hour walk], then the person would die. “
“Now people work at the clinic every day – anytime anyone gets sick, they can get care. If the clinic is not able to help, the ambulance is there to carry them. A little girl was sick – 2 years old – she was sick to her stomach and her ear was infected. They took her to the clinic and gave her medicine.
"My mom lives here. I live in the next village, a two-hour walk. I work as a community health volunteer. During the Ebola crisis, I did contact tracing. We had no cases!
"Now I educate people on health and hygiene, on diarrheal diseases and malaria and how to take care of children under 5 years. I talk to the people. If they are sick – the ones that I can treat, I might treat them maybe with oral rehydration salts, things I have learned how to do or I can refer them to the clinic. People are still suffering but at least it’s much better.
In 10 years I want to become a nurse; I want to be more educated.”
“If you are healthy, you have the chance to do any good thing in your life.”
Faustina knows the positive effects firsthand. Comparing her health now to what it was after the birth of her first child, Faustina says she feels “far better, stronger and am looking more beautiful.”
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Strengthening Health Care
Empower and Protect the Community Health Worker
A sick doctor or nurse can infect patients or become unable to work. In Tanzania, and other countries where health care workers are scarce, the loss of one doctor or nurse means that thousands of people won’t get the care they need. And the sudden emergence of an infectious disease, such as the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, can have devastating consequences for the health care system in a developing country where health care workers often face severe shortages of basic protective equipment and supplies.
So her patients, family and community can stay healthy
“If we are safe, the community is safe,”
In countries where we work around the world such as Liberia, Philippines, Nepal, and here in the U.S. we focus on strengthening community health care – by rebuilding or expanding local health facilities, empowering, informing and training health workers and extending the capabilities of the local health system to reach out into the community and beyond with information, education and services.