Putting African Communities First - Enhancing Capacity and Participation to Close the Gap in Health Systems - Strategy 2007-2017

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The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) was founded in 1957 as an international African health development organisation by three reconstructive surgeons working in Kenya who were concerned that rural Africans were failing to access the surgical care they needed. The surgeons concluded that if the patients could not get to them, then they would go to the patients - and so the “Flying Doctors” were born. Continuing that tradition of innovative solutions, AMREF today carries out pioneering interventions that provoke health care improvements of significant importance, in Kenya and beyond. While AMREF’s service delivery efforts on the front lines have saved many lives, we have learned over the years that vertical disease treatment programmes are in themselves not enough to improve the overall health of those we serve. Consequently, during AMREF’s last strategy period, 2000-2005, “Better Health for the People of Africa”, our role moved away from purely service delivery, toward capacity building, operations research and advocacy. In this, AMREF’s 50th year, we are refining our strategy further by adding a strong component of community empowerment, so that over the next ten years we can use our current programmes to better advantage. The rationale for this shift is that AMREF has become acutely aware of the gap between vulnerable communities and the rest of the health system. These communities are often but not always remote geographically, but they are very remote in practical terms from policy makers and health system managers. Therefore, they have little opportunity to provide input to policy decisions regarding their own health needs or the ways in which they receive health services. The gap exists despite increased expenditures by governments and donors and despite successes in the prevention and treatment of common diseases. In addition, poorly directed health financing has hastened the deterioration of peripheral health infrastructure, further undermining health promotion and the quality and efficiency of basic preventive services at community, health centre and district levels.

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