Its methods: AmeriCares has a network of pharmaceutical and medical-supply companies that donate more than $700 million worth of essential pharmaceuticals and vital medical supplies per year. It then distributes critical items to hospitals, clinics, local health centers, and refugee camps in the immediate aftermath of disasters. “We are one of the world’s largest recipients and distributors of donated medicines and medical supplies,” says Michael Nyenhuis, president and CEO. Because of these donations and because its model doesn’t require on-the-ground infrastructure, AmeriCares effectively leverages the support it obtains. “With every dollar we receive, we can put $20 of critical medicines in the hands of doctors who are serving people in poverty and dealing with disaster,” says Nyenhuis.
Following a disaster, AmeriCares can be on the ground and get up and running quickly, thanks to its deep relationships with a network of local medical centers and clinics. That network extends throughout all 50 states and 90 countries, ensuring the organization is ready to respond wherever it’s needed. “If there’s a disaster, we don’t have to ask who we have to work with and help,” Nyenhuis says. The organization also stays after the crisis to help shore up the local health infrastructure.
Its impact: In 2015, AmeriCares provided enough medicine to fill 16 million prescriptions and distributed 38 million supply items, such as sutures, bandages, and surgical supplies. The organization came out in full force to fight Ebola, sending 2.2 million masks, gowns, gloves, and other pieces of protective gear to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. In Liberia, it recruited the physicians and nurses who staffed the treatment units and established mobile clinics that delivered care to those in isolated areas. In Sierra Leone, AmeriCares supplied protective equipment to caregivers of children who had been exposed to the virus and provided kits that included food, clothing, and personal care supplies to help ease the children’s transition back to the community.
Another example of AmeriCares’ ability to provide rapid assistance is its response to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal that affected more than 8.1 million people. “We were able to deploy our medical team from Mumbai within 48 hours,” Nyenhuis says. Once there, the organization provided 14 tons of medicine and supplies, established temporary medical camps, and built a warehouse to store supplies needed by frontline workers as the crisis evolved.
How the Satter Foundation has helped: The Satter Foundation has provided AmeriCares with unrestricted funding for 17 years. Because of AmeriCares’ ability to leverage donations, the Satter Foundation’s support has enabled AmeriCares to deliver more than $18 million in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid.
What’s next for AmeriCares: “We’re taking a very close look at how to continue to improve the practice of getting medicines and supplies to the most remote places,” says Nyenhuis. “We are reconfiguring our distribution center in Connecticut with improved technology that we’ll use to track all medicines through the whole supply chain.” The organization is also looking for ways it can help its local partners improve their supply chains so the products it disburses are always as safe and secure as possible from end to end.