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Amref Flying Doctors

Amref Flying Doctors, globally known as Amref Health Africa, was founded in 1957 to bring critical health services to remote communities in East Africa. Headquartered in Nairobi, we now provide a broad range of services designed to strengthen health systems and achieve lasting health change in Africa, through country programmes in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, and Senegal. Our work is built on three pillars – human resources for health, innovative health services and solutions, and investments in health – through which we contribute to SDG 2 – zero hunger; SDG 3 – good health and well-being; SDG 5 – gender equality; SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation; and SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals.

Amref Health Africa, known as Amref Flying Doctors in the Netherlands, was founded in 1957 to bring critical health services to remote communities in East Africa. Headquartered in Nairobi, we currently provide a broad range of services designed to strengthen health systems through country programmes in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, and Senegal.

With over 60 years of experience on the continent, Amref supports those at the heart of communities, particularly women and children, to bring about lasting health change. Amref’s work is built on three pillars – human resources for health, innovative health services and solutions, and investments in health – through which we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 2 – zero hunger; SDG 3 – good health and well-being; SDG 5 – gender equality; SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation; and SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals.

Adequate nutrition is an essential building block for long-term improvements to health. Therefore, Amref has been integrating nutrition in its programmes for decades. Our activities initially focused on combating undernutrition to prevent stunting and wasting, especially in children under five, by integrating nutrition in our reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) programmes. Our focus expanded in recent years since we are seeing a rise in diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancers.

Without urgent and deliberate actions, the double burden of malnutrition may reverse the recent gains in health in the African countries we work in. Therefore, we now also place strong emphasis on protecting people from exposure to highly processed foods, and we are working hard to create awareness on the dangers of these foods.

Some examples of Amref’s activities around nutrition security include:

  • Through the Amref International University, our e-campus, and our mLearning tools, we train (future) health workers of all cadres on nutrition, enabling them to offer high-quality nutrition services.
  • In close collaboration with local governments, we train and deploy community health workers to screen households for malnutrition and diet-related NCDs, and to promote healthy diets and the uptake of nutrition services.
  • We organise community awareness events and campaigns around nutrition and nutrition-related NCDs, and we run supplementary school feeding programmes for refugees and their host communities.

Amref has a strong ambition to systemically integrate nutrition into all of our programme sectors and countries. We are currently partnering with Nutrition International to create a long-term strategy for this purpose. The goal of the partnership is to improve access to nutrition interventions for adolescent girls, women of reproductive age and children, and to increase demand for and uptake of nutrition interventions by these target groups. This has become even more urgent during the current Covid-19 pandemic, with many African communities facing serious challenges in the form of lockdowns, unemployment, and food price hikes, which are harming their nutritional intake and therefore their health.

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Dorieke Kuijpers & Marianne Hangelbroek

Dorieke Kuijpers works as a Ventures Manager at Amref in the Netherlands. Together with Amref’s country platforms in Africa, she works on developing, testing and scaling innovative health solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa in a financially sustainable way. Before joining Amref, she worked as a (research-) project manager with various NGOs in Kenya and Pakistan. Dorieke has Master’s degrees in Public Health and International Development Studies.

Marianne Hangelbroek is responsible for the Partnerships team at Amref in the Netherlands. She is a results-driven, enthusiastic professional with over 20 years of experience in building new high-level, strategic partnerships and managing and expanding existing partnerships. Together with her team, Marianne develops new partnerships to broker resources, knowledge and expertise for Amref’s African parent organisation in order to achieve better health in Africa.