In the past, deficiencies in health policy, financing and service availability undermined attempts to achieve lasting improvements in health status among poor communities. Free-standing, community-based health programmes supported by the Foundation and other donors succeeded in achieving health improvements for a limited time at a relatively low cost. However, communities often did not have the financial resources to sustain improvements, the quality of care and patient referral were not assured, and basic services were often inaccessible and rarely equitable or lasting.
The Foundation now supports interventions that build the institutional capacity of health systems by:
- Strengthening and developing partnerships between all stakeholders from the state to the community;
- Promoting policy dialogue and mechanisms to develop and sustain health systems and services;
- Documenting and disseminating best practices.
Health is more than health care. While the Foundation works to strengthen health systems and services, it also promotes initiatives that offer people the knowledge and skills to avoid illness. These measures include educating women and girls and enabling families to adopt appropriate hygiene practices. In addition, the Foundation supports testing and implementation of income-generating strategies that allow households and communities to acquire better nutrition and health status. Increased income enables communities to improve nutritional status, particularly that of women and children, and to build and maintain water and sanitation systems.
Beyond community health programmes, the AKDN operates one of the largest non-profit private healthcare systems in the developing world that includes basic health centres as well as internationally accredited research hospitals, a state-of-the-art Heart and Cancer Centre, and quality graduate medical education and training.