AMREF's work is structured around seven strategic priorities. The first six: Maternal Health, Child Health, Fighting Disease, Improving water and sanitation, Training Health Workers, Flying Doctors and Outreach surgery, form the basis of all our project work on the ground, ensuring that all our projects work towards specific, achieveable and meaningful goals. The seventh, Creating a unified, global AMREF, helps us maximise our international team, expertise and reach to ensure that AMREF's work is most effective.
Our work has always been based on creating long-term sustainable health change, and we believe the power to create this change lies within African communities. Our work ensures that communities have the knowledge, skills and means to maintain their good health and break the cycle of poor health and poverty.
We reach, respect and become part of communities and help them make change from within. We do this by:
- Supporting communities others cannot or do not reach
- Creating conditions for health, catalysing the hidden but real energies within communities
- Championing women who are at the heart of their family's and community's health
AMREF is stopping people dying of easily preventable and treatable diseases such as HIV,TB, malaria and diarrhoea, by educating communities about prevention and bringing good quality and affordable treatment closer to people’s homes. The need is urgent.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than two thirds (68%) of the global population living with HIV (22.5 million) but only a little over 10% of its population has access to anti-retroviral drugs.
Dangerous drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis have now emerged.
Malaria is the biggest killer of African children. Diarrhoea claims the lives of 5,000 children every day. A woman in Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy of childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developing country. AMREF is tackling the biggest killers in Africa, but we do not do this in isolation. We are strengthening health systems to be more effective in dealing with all areas of health care and services. Within this work, we are:
- Preventing and treating new infections of HIV and minimising its impact on people already infected
- Raising awareness of tuberculosis, and how to prevent, diagnose and treat it correctly
- Educating people about the causes of malaria, its signs and symptoms
- Improving maternal health
- Improving access to safe water and sanitation to prevent water-borne diseases
Similar projects include :
Women are more vulnerable to ill health in Africa. Low income and social status, lack of education and traditional gender roles and responsibilities are key contributing factors.
Three quarters of the population living with HIV in Africa between the ages of 15-24 are women.
Women are more vulnerable to HIV because of biological reasons, but the key factors behind this disparity are social and economic. Financial circumstances can force women into selling themselves for sex and too many of those who are in relationships or married are often not in a position to demand faithfulness or safe sex.
Maternal death rates in Africa are particularly high because of the lack of skilled midwives, obstructed labour, unsafe abortions, anaemia and malaria. 1 in 39 women dies as a result of pregnancy or childbirth compared to just 1 in 8,000 in industrialised countries.
Pregnant women in Africa are particularly vulnerable to malaria. Their immunity is low, and they often do not have the knowledge or the means to be able to prevent it. Obstructed labour is a particular problem for young women giving birth whose bodies are not sufficiently developed. Some African countries have the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world.
Violence against women is also a key concern in Africa, especially in South Africa, which has the highest incidence of violence against women in the world among countries not at war.
Read about AMREF's Mama na Mtoto, Maternal Health, Kenya project, training communities in the vital skills that can help prevent maternal deaths.
Read about AMREF's project in Afar, Ethiopia, promoting Malaria Prevention education and techniques reducing prevalence in women and children.
Read about AMREF's work providing Pastoralist Health care , bringing health facilities to women and children living in remote Ethiopia.
AMREF is training health workers in close to 40 African countries. Through its training, AMREF aims to strengthen the capacity and capability of health and health-related professionals and institutions.
Every year AMREF trains more than 10,000 community health workers who bring health close closer to the people in some of Africa’s most marginalised communities. Health workers are the backbone of the health system in many African countries, and without them, the health system fails. AMREF believes it is extremely important to increase the numbers of health workers across all countries we work in, to provide the vital link between communities and the health system.
AMREF also trains doctors, nurses, community midwives, clinical officers, laboratory technicians and pharmacists. Established in 1973, the International Training Centre in Nairobi provides a host of training courses, with an emphasis on continuing education for all rural health workers.
One of AMREF’s most notable award-winning training programmes is an innovative eLearning programme, which helps to improve the skills of 7,000 nurses in Kenya. Read more about this programme
Almost 4 million children under five die in sub-Saharan Africa every year. For every 1,000 babies born, 172 die – this figure falls to nine per 1,000 in developed regions.
Major causes of death for under-fives in sub-Saharan Africa include malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and AIDS-related diseases.
Additionally, many babies die in their first month because of complications during pregnancy and labour, or from infections.
Eighty per cent of these children die at home without seeing a health worker, and most of these deaths could be prevented through basic interventions, clean water and sanitation.
AMREF's work with children
AMREF is helping to stop these needless deaths by preventing and managing common childhood illnesses at home and at primary care level. These include malaria, respiratory infections, immunisable and acute diarrhoeal diseases, and child malnutrition.
In Busia in Kenya, AMREF has supplied 9,000 mothers and children with mosquito nets and is educating 20,000 school children about the importance of using them and seeking treatment if they experience the symptoms of malaria. We have trained hundreds of community health workers who are now able to administer anti-malarial drugs in people’s homes.
AMREF is also preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improving care, diagnosis and treatment for children living with HIV/AIDS. In Nairobi and Makueni and Machakos districts in Kenya, we are raising awareness about how HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, labour and delivery and breastfeeding and we are improving the treatment available for HIV-positive mothers and newborns.
AMREF is also supporting children who have been orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS by supporting community and family members to generate income to be able to pay for their school fees.
Below are some of AMREF's on-going projects in relation to Child Health support :
The Flying Doctor Service provides air evacuation service in medical emergencies as well as air ambulance transfers between medical facilities. Patients are repatriated worldwide, to countries including South Africa, Europe, Asia and North America by private jet air ambulance or accompanied by a medical escort, by commercial carriers to any destination.
AMREF Flying Doctors was established over 50 years ago by three surgeons - Sir Michael Wood, Archibald McIndoe & Thomas Rees in 1957. Since then, the Flying Doctors have been involved in many health care projects in East Africa, one of them being the Air Ambulance Services.
The service covers the countries of East Africa (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) and, when clearance can be obtained, most neighbouring countries – Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and others. In addition, subject to flight clearances, the Flying Doctors will carry out evacuations from anywhere on the African continent.
AMREF Flying Doctors have recently launched the Maisha Air Ambulance cover for tourists and travellers to East Africa, to find out more click here.
More than one billion people in the developing world have no safe drinking water, or water for washing their food, hands and utensils before eating. 2.4 billion also have no adequate sanitation. This leads to water-borne diseases (e.g. cholera, typhoid), water-related diseases (e.g. malaria, yellow fever, river blindness, sleeping sickness), water-based diseases (e.g. guinea worm and bilharzias), water-scarce diseases (trachoma and scabies) and diarrhoea, a leading killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The crisis is worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where 2 in 5 people lack safe water. A baby here is almost 520 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than one born in Europe. Improving access to clean water and sanitation would dramatically reduce illness and death in poor countries: a clean water supply reduces diarrhoea-related death by up to 25%, while improved sanitation reduces it by 32%.
Trachoma, one of the most common causes of blindness in the developing world, is linked to extreme poverty and poor sanitation. It is triggered by bacteria that cause repeated conjunctivitis. It is easily spread, especially where there is little water for people to wash their hands and faces regularly. There are 6 million new cases of this preventable disease each year in Africa.
Adequate water and sanitation would help vulnerable groups – especially women and girls. It would also provide significant economic benefit. The annual value of time saved globally would amount to $63.5 billion in 2015, while the health-related costs avoided would reach $7.3 billion per year worldwide in 2015.
How AMREF is tackling waterborne diseases
Together with communities and district health councils, AMREF is improving water and sanitation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and South Africa.
In Kibera, Kenya, we and local residents have installed latrines, bathrooms and water tanks. Clean-up campaigns have cleared drains and reduced refuse problems. We have set up school-based ‘wash clubs’, teaching children about hygiene and encouraging them to take the message home. Results show improvement – cases of diarrhoea and intestinal worms have dropped by about 70% in target schools. In Tanzania, we have worked with communities to construct shallow wells and latrines. Songs, dramas and role-plays have successfully spread messages about hygiene and sanitation into the community.
Improving water accessibility has reduced the workload – for women and girls. This has increased school attendance for children and helped women engage in other income-generating activities.
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