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Health & Nutrition

Helping vulnerable people live healthier lives and get the food they need has been a cornerstone of Concern’s work for nearly 50 years.

WHY HEALTH & NUTRITION?

We recognize that sustainable gains in our work to end extreme poverty require a holistic approach that can only be achieved through tackling poverty’s root causes — including health and nutrition. From helping farmers grow more nutritious crops for their families to responding to health crises like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, health and nutrition are the forefront of what we do.

We concentrate not only on treating diseases and conditions but on preventing them from ever occurring in the first place.

We are a world leader in this field, and our work has helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands.

A Local and National Approach

We partner locally with communities and nationally with governments to find sustainable, long-term solutions to health care access and better nutrition. Working in partnership with institutions and organizations on the ground, we help strengthen health systems to deliver integrated, high-quality health services. We focus on improving the reach of existing health services, especially at the community level and among the underserved, while also helping governments manage scarce resources more effectively. We work towards this by supporting existing national and local health plans with a focus on national leadership and ownership of health care results.

Burundi Community Case Management

In Burundi, Concern’s Community Case Management program trains community health workers to screen children under age five in their towns or villages for malaria and either treat them for the illness at home or refer seriously ill children to nearby health facilities. Photo by Reka Sztopa/Concern Worldwide

Treatment and Prevention

We focus not only on treating conditions like malnutrition and disease but on preventing them from ever occurring in the first place so that mothers and children don’t die from illnesses that are entirely preventable. We believe an investment in health care is vital to prevent illness and disability and that a healthy population unburdened by sickness or by caring for the ill is a productive one better able to move out of poverty and towards a prosperous future. Our community-based work targets women, newborns, and young children (particularly during the critical first 1,000 days their lives) to both prevent and treat malnutrition. Environmental health is an essential component to physical health, too, and our programs in water, sanitation, and hygiene include waste management, pollution control, and insect repellent measures to stop disease transmission.

Sierra Leone Clinic

Three-day-old Umaro Monsaray is held by nurses during his health check at the Magburaka PHC Primary Health Clinic in Tonkolili, Sierra Leone. Photo by Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

A Holistic View

We innovate holistic approaches to end chronic malnutrition, which can have long-term impact on a child’s cognitive and physical abilities that might impair him or her for a lifetime, as well as effect generations to come. Our work includes improving agriculture by teaching farmers how to grow nutritious, diverse crops that are hardy, diversifying livelihoods options and access to markets to improve income for food in case of crop failures, and rehabilitating and conserving arable land and other natural resources vulnerable to natural disasters. We also educate people about better cooking and child feeding practices, and train community health workers and volunteers to improve the overall health of communities so that they can thrive and move out of poverty.

RAIN Harvest

A harvest from a small-scale farmer participating in Concern’s Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN) program, which helps people improve their health by training them to grow diverse and hardy crops that improve nutrition and food security for farmers and their families. Photo by Gareth Bentley

Learn More about Our Work in Health and Nutrition

How We Do It

Innovation

From testing plants that may fight malaria to setting up support systems for isolated health care workers based in vulnerable communities, Concern regularly heads off the beaten path to find solutions to challenges in health and nutrition.

Women & Children

A silent tsunami of hunger has left 161 million children around the world suffering from chronic malnutrition. Concern has helped save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives through its groundbreaking work with mothers, newborns, and young children, empowering parents give their children the gift of health.

Community Empowerment

Throughout our history we have sought community-based solutions to health and nutrition challenges. For example, in 2002, Concern piloted a ground-breaking program for community-led management of acute malnutrition, training community health workers to identify severe acute malnutrition before the onset of medical complications and then treat children at home rather than in far-away facilities.