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Driving Improved Access to Quality Health Care in Developing Countries

January 14, 2019

Project_cure_volunteersDespite the many impressive advances in public health we hear about on a regular basis, access to high-quality health care remains a pressing global issue. In developing countries, where traditional barriers to quality health care are exacerbated by inadequate medical infrastructure and a shortage of providers, millions of people suffer and die from conditions for which effective interventions exist simply because of a lack of access to needed care and resources.

According to a World Health Organization/World Bank Group report, at least 400 million people globally do not have access to one or more essential health services, while 6 percent of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed further into poverty by health care-related spending. Tragically, a recent study published in The Lancet estimates that 15.6 million preventable deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries every year, including 8.6 million that probably could have been prevented through high-quality health care. Of those 8.6 million deaths, some 5 million involved patients who received poor health care.

Statistics like these underscore the fact that access to quality health care is an urgent problem — one that demands a coordinated, multi-faceted response. Underresourced health systems in developing countries invariably mean a shortage of trained health care workers, limited inventories of medical supplies and medications, and inadequate public health surveillance systems. To address these issues, efforts must be made not only to increase access to care on the ground, but to enhance existing medical infrastructure.

Fortunately, effective strategies and solutions have been created and implemented to help close gaps in health care delivery. Through their program expertise and targeted grants, philanthropic organizations can further leverage the knowledge and existing relationships of organizations on the ground to maximize impact and create healthier futures for millions of people.

Project C.U.R.E., the world's largest supplier of donated medical supplies and equipment, is one such organization. Recognizing that public health systems in developing countries have limited resources to purchase even the most commonplace medical devices — equipment that is critical for the safe and effective prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment, of disease — it is collaborating with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation, a not-for-profit grant making organization focused on supporting global health-related initiatives, to launch a program that will provide local health care workers in developing countries with the equipment, as well as training, needed to help vulnerable populations.

To that end, an initial grant of $50,000 from ABF to Project C.U.R.E. will help support USAID's Health System Strengthening (HSS) program, an effort to better equip doctors and nurses in developing countries to treat disease, deliver vaccines, perform life-changing surgeries, and make safe childbirth the norm. The grant also will support training for medical professionals participating in the American Academy of Pediatrics' Helping Babies Survive (HBS) program, which provides neonatal care and nutrition for infants and young children around the globe.

Headshot_clark_mazottiThe collaboration of Project C.U.R.E. and the AmerisourceBergen Foundation is a small example of how philanthropy can support improved access to quality health care in developing countries. Through multi-level coordination, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, working together, can begin to break down the barriers that keep vulnerable populations from receiving the reliable, high-quality health care they need. Won’t you join us?

Gina Clark is executive vice president and chief communications and administration officer at AmerisourceBergen and is president of the AmerisourceBergen Foundation. Jan Mazotti is director of communications, marketing and Public Relations at Project C.U.R.E.

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