SANTA MONICA, California — The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is an international, non-governmental organization founded in and focused solely on health development and research in Africa. AMREF concentrates its aid efforts primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Senegal. The organization seeks lasting and sustainable healthcare changes in Africa to break the pattern of sickness and poverty. But AMREF abides by a unique point of view: it focuses more on people than diseases, therefore accommodating health services to each individual community.
AMREF focuses on people specifically by spreading knowledge. It provides health training, consulting support and projects in more than 30 countries. AMREF also seeks to change health policy to affect a greater number of people than aid alone can reach. The organization’s seven priorities are maternal health, child health, fighting diseases, water and sanitation, clinical and diagnostic services, research and advocacy and maintaining a unified, coordinated AMREF despite its globally distributed network of offices.
AMREF currently has 12 national offices, all of which raise funds and awareness for health programs. AMREF has proven itself to be an African leader in the education and training of community members. With its mobile and clinic health services, it is able to reach out to slums and rural communities that otherwise might have gone overlooked.
The health of women and children remains one of AMREF’s top areas of intervention. The organization asserts that improvement among this often undervalued population can drastically improve the well-being of the community as a whole. AMREF funds essential services, such as skilled care for women during pregnancy and childbirth, education on the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer, and management of common illnesses among children.
In all its projects, AMREF combines and shares knowledge from its grassroots programs. It often works in tandem with African communities, other NGOs and healthcare professionals to establish sustainable health solutions. AMREF’s three pillars are human resources for health, health management information systems and community systems strengthening. The first centers around health training for African community members. The second focuses on gathering evidence-based data through various programs. The third seeks to make communities self-sufficient by providing them with the knowledge, skills and resources to establish a tradition of better health.
AMREF has made it clear that indigenous solutions—backed by international knowledge and science—can be just as effective as the provision of foreign aid. The Global Health Fund even lauded the organization as “a beacon for Africa and for the world.”
AMREF uses donations to fund its programs, supply health products and deliver services. It depends on investments by donors—such as government organizations, foundation, trusts, corporations and individuals—primarily located in North America and Europe. Although AMREF’s funding base is currently valued at more than $60 million per year, the organization emphasizes the fact that a massive number of Africans still lack sufficient health care and health education.
Although Africa’s health crisis may never truly be “solved,” AMREF is a key player in both increasing health awareness and accessibility of services, and alleviating the root causes of poverty and preventable health problems.
– Mari LeGagnoux
Sources: AMREF, WHO
Photo: Frontline Health Workers