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AmeriCares Honors Women in Health Care: Our Partners and Leaders in Good Health Around the World

  • May 17, 2011

Recognizing women’s achievements and contributions in education, the workplace, medicine, and the political arena has been cause for official celebration for years – 100 years, to be exact.

Celebrated around the world since 1911, this year marked the centennial observance of International Women’s Day which honors women from all walks in life in various ways for their valuable achievements. In some countries, the occasion shares equivalent status with Mother’s Day, or is designated as a national holiday like in Armenia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Uganda, Zambia, Russia and China, to name a few.

In honor of women everywhere – whether it’s International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day or every day – AmeriCares pays tribute to all the remarkable women in health care and in our partner organizations with whom we work as part of our Global Medical Assistance Program. Through the talent, skill, dedication and resourcefulness of these women, AmeriCares is able to provide medicines and medical supplies to more than 2,500 hospitals, clinics and community health programs worldwide. Their commitment to providing quality medical care, aid and access to health care in their communities is an inspiration to their colleagues, the patients they help, and to AmeriCares.

Read about just a few of the amazing women around the world with whom we are proud to partner, bringing health care to those who need it most.


Dr. Aparna Parikh

Dr. Aparna Parikh is a pediatrician and clinical geneticist who has volunteered countless hours for AmeriCares. When AmeriCares India launched a mobile medical van project to provide critical on-site health services and free medicines to the people of Mumbai’s poorest slums, Dr. Parikh took charge of administering to the children. The launch was immensely successful and the families were very grateful for Dr. Parikh’s skillful attention to the children who came for help and treatment.

Dr. Cornelia Haener 

At the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE in Phnom Penh, Dr. Cornelia Haener launched in 2008 the only breast cancer initiative in Cambodia’s public sector that provides free care for patients. To expand Dr. Haener’s lifesaving initiative, AmeriCares and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals last year announced a three-year commitment to continue the hospital program that provides free cancer screenings and medications to impoverished women in Cambodia.

The program emphasizes education, and early breast cancer detection and treatment in hopes of increasing survival rates and helping save more women’s lives. As a general surgeon and Surgical Director at Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE, Dr. Haener works tirelessly to raise breast cancer awareness throughout Cambodia and serves on the Ministry of Health’s task force on non-communicable diseases.

Esther Mukungu 

When AmeriCares established the Health Worker Safety Initiative at Bugando Medical Centre in Tanzania, a three-year program to train 2,000 health workers how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of infection, Esther Mukungu was the lead Infection Prevention Nurse. Many of the initiative’s successes are a result of her determination and passion to provide excellence in health care. Today, she is realizing her dream to go back to school for her Bachelor of Nursing Education and expects to graduate in 2013. After finishing her studies, she will use her new degree to further improve the hospital’s operations and the well-being of her fellow nurses and hospital staff.

Dr. Serban, Dr. Uscatescu, and Adriana Henderson

Dedicated their lifework to treating hemophilia in Romania and caring for patients suffering from this rare genetic condition which prevents blood from clotting properly.

Dr. Serban is the co-founder of the Christian Serban Rehabilitation Center located in the western Romanian city of Timisoara. The center, which has become a haven for young boys with hemophilia, provides regular treatments of blood-clotting medicines donated by AmeriCares and medical care to help patients manage their condition.

Dr. Valentina Uscatescu, and Adriana HendersonDr. Uscatescu (inset, left) an advocate for hemophiliacs throughout the country, leads the Hematology Department at the Institutul Clinic in Bucharest, which is supported by AmeriCares. It is the only hospital in the country performing surgeries for hemophilia patients.

Adriana Henderson (inset, right) founded Start Thinking About Romanian (STAR) Children Foundation and Camp Ray of Hope, a summer camp for young hemophiliacs in Romania. At this camp, boys aged 8 to 18 with hemophilia are given free medical treatments from AmeriCares and a rare opportunity to be “just ordinary kids at play” enjoying regular camp activities.

Dr. Nilda Soto 

Born in Puerto Rico to a poor but loving family, Dr. Nilda Soto began dreaming of becoming a doctor when she was around 10 years old so that she could help children live healthier childhoods. But she was discouraged early on by the town doctor, who said, “That little girl will never be a doctor!”

Instead of being crushed, Nilda was determined to work even harder to realize her dream. Years later as a medical resident, Nilda met that very same town doctor again under very different circumstances. He was brought to her hospital suffering from a heart attack, and she helped save his life.

Now, Dr. Soto runs the Open Door Health Center near Miami, Florida – a free clinic she started in 2000 with a grant she received and support from a local foundation, volunteer doctors and two universities. The clinic, which receives medicines and medical supplies from AmeriCares, has provided more than 100,000 patient visits, trained some 300 medical professionals, facilitated over 160 free surgeries, and touched the lives of thousands since it first opened.

Thanks to Dr. Soto’s dedication and perseverance, patients who come to the Open Door Health Center receive high-quality, comprehensive services. According to Dr. Soto, “Medicine for the poor does not have to be poor medicine.”

Dr. Nancy Melgar 

At the AmeriCares Family Clinic in El Salvador, Dr. Nancy Melgar, just 27 years of age, is an accomplished doctor who also leads the clinic’s expansive outreach and education program. Word has spread and local families in Santiago de Maria know they will receive low-cost, high-quality health care at the AmeriCares clinic, a result of the innovative ways in which Dr. Melgar has helped improve the scope and reach of the clinic’s many initiatives.

Last year, nearly 44,000 patients were treated at the AmeriCares clinic, which also conducted more than 30 health education programs, thanks to Dr. Melgar and the important role she plays building a bridge to the community and helping bring health care to families who need it.

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