Skoll Foundation


Healthcare Access and Treatment

A focus on diseases and cures can mask the underlying issue: lack of access to quality healthcare. Inadequate access results in millions of preventable deaths every year. Developing countries are served by one-tenth as many doctors and nurses per capita as high-income areas. The developed world suffers too. We advance innovations that enable access to and ensure use of reliable, affordable and appropriate healthcare that leads to improved health outcomes in disadvantaged populations.
Regions include: Africa, India, Latin America, United States.


APOPO trains rats to find landmines and help diagnose tuberculosis (TB) in Africa. APOPO’s HeroRATS have returned 1.3 million square meters of suspected minefields to original populations in Mozambique, impacting more than 50,000 individuals. This African approach is now being copied in Latin America and South East Asia. APOPO’s HeroRATS diagnosed more than 900 TB patients in Tanzania and prevented TB infection in 13,500 healthy people.

Associação Saúde Criança stops the cycle of hospitalization, discharge and rehospitalization among sick children in Brazil. The problem? At home, kids would get sick again, and re-enter the hospital when it was sometimes too late. Saude Crianca restructures kids’ families in five areas: health, vocational training, housing, education and citizenship. Its institutes help 40,000 people monthly. Saúde Criança’s methodology became part of public policy and decreased the average number of days children spend in hospitals annually by 66 percent.

BasicNeeds works with mentally ill people across 12 countries through a holistic model to address community mental health, poverty and stigma. Its cost-effective, comprehensive model engages the community to raise awareness and identify those in need, trains medical and volunteer workers to treat people locally rather than in institutions, and helps mentally ill people and their caregivers create peer support and advocacy networks. BasicNeeds provides income generation opportunities or participation in productive work, enabling sustainable recoveries and reintegration into society. It generates evidence and knowledge, which can improve health practice and inform policy. It has served more than 530,000 beneficiaries, and enabled 85% of mentally ill people in the communities it serves to access treatment, and 58% of participants obtain either paid employment or productive work.

Health Care Without Harm makes the health care industry more environmentally friendly. It’s helped close medical waste incinerators, eliminated mercury medical products, reduce hospital greenhouse gas emissions and bring local and sustainable foods to hospitals.

Health Leads expands the capacity of clinics and hospitals to meet the underlying needs of poor patients. Doctors prescribe support services along with medication, and Health Leads volunteers connect patients to sources of food, housing, and job training. Within 90 days, the majority of patients served by Health Leads have secured at least one essential resource, and 83 percent of its volunteer graduates have gone on to jobs or advanced study in the fields of health and poverty.

Mothers2Mothers helps prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in South Africa through a model of care that supports mother and child health. It relies on trained local women who provide education and support for pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV. With 600 program sites, it has more than 200,000 patient encounters each month and reaches more than 20 percent of the HIV+ pregnant women in the world.

One World Health (iOWH) develops lifesaving medicine for neglected diseases. It’s the first non-profit drug research and development organization in the US. Its milestones include the development of paromomycin intramuscular injection (PMIM) as a safe, effective, and affordable treatment for kala-azar. iOWH reduced the toll of diarrheal diseases, which kill 1.5 million children under age five in developing countries every year. It’s made progress in developing an alternative source of artemisinin, a critical component for malaria treatment.

Partners in Health (PIH) was founded by the legendary Dr. Paul Farmer, of whom the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World was written. The PIH hospital in Haiti provides free treatment to patients. PIH helps patients living in poverty obtain effective drugs to treat tuberculosis and AIDS. PIH also oversees projects in Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and Peru.

Riders for Health has given the poor in seven African countries an efficient way to get to the hospital by training locals to fix the cars and motorcycles that have broken down and been abandoned (its founders saw women in labor being carried to the hospital in wheelbarrows). Riders created a non-profit vehicle-leasing model that works in the Gambia, enabling the Ministry of Health to reach the entire population with its public health services, including maternal health, immunization and distribution of bed nets. It’s also created a professional motorcycle courier service to ensure urine and blood specimens reach labs in time.

Village Reach (VR) has created such an innovative system to improve the health of the poor in Mozambique, the Ministry of Health is partnering to implement it nationally. VR increased immunization coverage rates for children under age 5 in northern Mozambique from 68 percent to 95 percent with a last-mile logistics system that costs the government less to operate. VR’s social business, VidaGas, is the largest propane distributor in northern Mozambique, which supports the health system.

VisionSpring makes sure that the poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America have access to eye doctors and glasses. It trains local women in countries like Bangladesh to provide glasses, creating permanent distribution. It’s sold nearly 400,000 pairs of glasses and doubled its sales each year. VisionSpring and its partners support more than 5,000 Vision Entrepreneurs – mostly women — who run their own businesses selling eyeglasses in these countries.

World Health Partners (WHP) identifies practicing informal private sector health providers at the village level, and networks them into a supply chain of medical products with support through marketing, training, and use of technology. Using WHP’s telemedicine tools, the networked rural providers connect to a Central Medical Facility, allowing patients in rural areas to interact with specialists in real time, with the rural provider serving as the patient-doctor liaison. Prior to WHP’s presence in Bihar, only five percent of the state’s population had access to quality healthcare. Currently, WHP is on track to achieve 70 percent coverage. WHP rural health providers are in about 4,000 villages, which are served by 250 telemedicine centers. By 2015 WHP expects to be in more than 20,000 villages.


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© 2015 Skoll Foundation.