AMREF HEALTH AFRICA
Amref Health Africa, headquartered in Nairobi Kenya, is the largest Africa-based International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO). With a focus on increasing sustainable health access, Amref runs programmes in over 35 countries in Africa, with lessons learnt over 60 years of engagement with governments, communities and partners. Amref Health Africa also engages in programme development, fundraising, partnership, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and has offices in Europe and North America as well as subsidiaries: Amref Flying Doctors, Amref Enterprises and the Amref International University.
Amref Health Africa (formerly the African Medical and Research Foundation – AMREF) was founded in 1957 by three surgeons as the Flying Doctors of East Africa. Three doctors – Sir Michael Wood, Sir Archibald McIndoe and Tom Rees – who drew up a plan to provide medical care in East Africa, where they had all worked for many years as reconstructive surgeons. Training for local health care providers was gradually added, including the development of health learning materials and a focus on community-based health care.
During the 1980s, Amref Health Africa moved into community health development, closer collaboration with the ministries of health in the region, and cooperation with international aid agencies. This set the organisation’s course for the 1980s and beyond. Greater emphasis was given to strengthening health systems. The organization has grown in leaps and bounds, to impacting over 10 million people annually through its three strategic pillars on:
- Human Resources for Health-focused on developing and sustaining human resources for health to catalyze the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Africa.
- Innovative Health Services and Solutions-focused on developing and delivering sustainable health services and solutions for improved access to and utilization of quality preventive, curative and restorative health services.
- Investments in Health-focused on contributing to increased investments in health to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030.
Its subsidiaries, Amref Flying Doctors (AFD) is the leading provider of fixed – wing air ambulance services in Africa. AFD has been in the aeromedical transport industry for more than 60 years – operating from Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Its fully owned fleet of aircraft ranging from short field Pilatus PC 12 to long-range jet aircraft including Citation Bravo and Citation XLS is available to evacuate patients from remote bush airstrips as well as to repatriate patients by jet air ambulance to other continents for specialized medical care. Additionally, its fully equipped and dedicated air ambulance fleet operates several Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ground Ambulances and a 24/7 Operations and Emergency Control Centre (OECC). Amref Flying Doctors is internationally accredited by the European Aeromedical Institute (EURAMI) for its high professional standards and has twice been a recipient of the prestigious ITIJ Air Ambulance Provider of the Year award. Any surplus revenue generated by Amref Flying Doctors supports Amref Health Africa’s humanitarian work and is crucial in helping the organisation to achieve its mission of lasting health change in Africa.
Amref Health Innovations (AHI) is the social enterprise arm of Amref Health Africa that is responsible for delivering sustainable social value through incubation and commercialization of innovative solutions conceptualized and developed throughout the organization. Amref Health Africa has embraced social entrepreneurship as a mechanism that combines the efficiency of the entrepreneurial private sector with the welfare orientation of public sector. AHI has positioned itself to strengthen the primary health care system as part of an important ingredient for the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa.
Amref International University (AMIU) is an accredited institution of higher learning focused on training in health sciences and is fully owned byAmref Health Africa. AMIU is founded on the experience and intellect of Amref Health Africa, which is reputed with over 60 years of quality and innovative public and community health interventions, training and education. AMIU has nurtured leaders and shaped the future of public health practice in Africa for over 40 years under its predecessor Amref International Training Centre (AITC). The University focuses primarily on health sciences with a commitment to progressively develop innovative programmes catering to the present and future needs of African populations.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic, and with its vision to creating lasting health change in Africa, Amref Health Africa has been responding to the pandemic in 10 countries across East, West and Southern Africa. These include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Senegal and Guinea.
As a partner to the WHO African Regional Office and Africa CDC, Amref Health Africa was enlisted in the emergency response taskforces of the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. By sharing their technical expertise and leveraging its strong relationships with communities, Amref Health Africa contributed to shaping various national strategies on Covid-19.
Amref Health Africa’s approach to responding to the virus was multilateral, taking on the crisis at all levels. While its long-established, robust relationships at global, regional and national level positioned it to advise on country policy, the organization remained acutely aware that without community buy-in, actions taken to stop the pandemic would fail. This is why Amref Health Africa’s response was grounded in community engagement and awareness-raising, delivered through a network of Community Health Workers (CHWs).
Guided by three principal objectives, Amref Health Africa’s response focused on preventing transmission, preventing death, and preventing social harm. For Amref Health Africa, it was important to address both the immediate and the secondary impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, taking into account the potential long-term effects on other structural health system concerns, as well as the wider social and psychological impacts, stifled youth opportunities, and increased rates of gender-based violence (GBV). Amref Health Africa focused on:
- Building Capacity for Health Workers
- Supporting Work Places to Ensure Continuity of Economic Activities
- Supporting Flow of Goods and Continuity of Trade between Countries
- Water, Sanitation, Hygiene-Infection Prevention and Control (WASH-IPC)
- Service Delivery including COVID-19 Testing
- Water, Sanitation, Hygiene-Infection Prevention and Control (WASH-IPC)
- Procurement and distribution of PPEs to health workers
- COVID-19 Disease Surveillance, Partnerships and Business Development for Covid Programming among other areas.
Amref Health Africa continues to grow, positively impacting the lives of many communities in Africa and strategically positioning itself as the leading health development organization in Africa.