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World Health: Providing Access to Medicines

  • April 6, 2007

Access to medicines is a problem that affects one third of the world’s population.  In developing countries the problem is particularly acute:  medicines are simply not available, counterfeit or too expensive for those who need them.   AmeriCares has been making medicines more available to these people for 25 years.  As people around the globe celebrate World Health Day on April 7, 2007, AmeriCares continues that very important mission.

Over the last quarter century, AmeriCares has acted as the bridge for getting medicines from where they are to where they need to be.  Thanks to an intense passion to help and the collaborative efforts of corporate partners, in that time AmeriCares has been able to deliver more than $6 billion of aid to people in 137 countries.

“AmeriCares is very good at getting large quantities of life saving aid to the worlds most difficult to reach places-and we do it on a daily basis,” says AmeriCares president and CEO Curt Welling.

Sometimes that entails responding to large scale emergencies and natural disasters, which often spark humanitarian crises and can lead to chronic disease.  AmeriCares delivered medicines and medical supplies to the victims of the South Asian tsunami in 2004, the Pakistan earthquake in 2005 and continues to send medicines to the people suffering in Darfur.

Other times, less visible crises call for help as developing countries have scant resources to deal with health concerns.  Take Guatemala, where more than 75% of the population lives below the poverty line and less than 60% have health coverage.  Yolanda Torres, for example, suffered from severe deformative arthritis and could not afford treatment due to the limited health care options in her country.  After receiving treatment donated by AmeriCares she was able to straighten her fingers and perform everyday tasks again, giving her what she described, with a big smile, as a “new life.”

In Senegal, where there is only one doctor for 2,000 people, 90-year old Abdullahi Ndiaye suffered from a fever so debilitating he could not get out of bed.  Once he received the analgesics and antibiotics donated by AmeriCares he began to recover.  Without them, his nurse said, “His family would have watched him die.”

Eleven million children die annually in the developing world from preventable diseases and 26 million adults die annually in those same countries from chronic diseases.  According to the UN Millennium Project, “after the presence of trained health professionals, medicines are the single most critical element in the maintenance of health and the successful treatment of disease and illness.”  AmeriCares continues to do its part to improve world health care by delivering critical medicines to the people who need them all over the world.