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Amref Health Africa

Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2018

Amref (African Medical and Research Foundation) Health Africa is a non-profit organization founded in Kenya in 1957 by three doctors, Michael Wood (United Kingdom), Tom Rees (USA) and Archibald McIndoe (New Zealand), with the aim of providing quality surgical care to the most remote and neglected populations in East Africa. For this purpose, they counted upon the service of 'flying doctors' with light aircraft-ambulances able to reach areas that are inaccessible due to the lack of infrastructure. Since then, the organization has worked for the union of African communities through public health services. In 1997, the year in which it celebrated its 40th anniversary, the NGO inaugurated Amref Salud África in Spain, a regional office to provide technical support to field teams and carry out promotion and fundraising campaigns. Since 2005, the organization has been carrying out online distance training via mobile devices and, in 2018, inaugurated its first university focused on the field of health.

Headquartered in Nairobi (Kenya) and with 19 other regional and national offices in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, South Sudan, Malawi and Senegal), Europe (Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Monaco and Sweden) and North America (United States and Canada), Amref develops its own programmes in some thirty African countries. In its more than sixty years of existence, the organization has provided healthcare to 110 million people, of whom eighty million are women and children, and has trained twelve million health workers.

Supported by a team of doctors, nurses, researchers, nutritionists and experts in sanitation and public health, almost all of African origin, the organization has six main global strategic priorities: maternal and child health; the training of professionals and capacity building; clinical and diagnostic services; the fight against neglected diseases, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; research and promotion actions; and water and sanitation. This strategic framework is also aligned with the 2015-2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Also worthy of note is its work in favour of the eradication of female genital mutilation, its awareness-raising programmes having reached more than five million people in Kenya and Tanzania alone, contributing to a reduction in the incidence of this practice from 45% to 14% in only a few years. Since 2011, Amref has managed to protect around 15,000 girls from this practice, replacing it with others known as alternative rites of passage, of a symbolic nature. No less relevant is the LEAP initiative: a platform for continuous online training for professionals via mobile devices providing information and data from clinical cases to study and discuss. This mobile app allows direct and immediate contact with online trainers and other professionals in the field thanks to its chat groups. The organization also has an international university specializing in degrees in health sciences and health education.

Amref's work has been rewarded with various recognitions such as the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Award (1999), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award for Global Health (2005) and the African NGO Leadership Award (2016), among others.

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