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30 Organizations Defending the Right to Health

#1 World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) was established in 1948 with a mission to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve vulnerable. The goal of the organization is “to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being”.

The WHO is present in more than 150 countries and its staff works with governments and other partners to ensure the highest level of health care for all people worldwide. The organization’s primary focus is put on improving access to quality primary health care services, working towards sustainable financing and financial protection, improving access to essential medicines and health products, training the health professionals and advising on health policies.

#2 Water School

Water School is an organization that is passionate about bringing improved health and clean water in Africa. The organization currently operates in Kenya and Uganda where it follows the principle that health and education are inseparable and, thus, empowers communities through integration of sanitation and hygiene education with sustainable water treatment technology call Solar Disinfection (SODIS).

The organization partners up with grassroots organizations and community leaders to improve quality of water and to elevate sanitation and hygiene practices. It also uses the services of health officers and health centers to introduce its programs into local communities. It partners up with Africa Water Solutions, which helps the beneficiaries of the projects to become advocates of the program, training their peers and families and spreading the message of clean water and health.

#3 The Global Health Council

The Global Health Council is one of the largest membership-based global health advocacy groups in the world, with over 100.000 members and branches in over 150 countries. The organization advocates for global health awareness and legislation to be passed through the US Congress. The organization’s focus is put on preventing premature death of children and adults worldwide.

The Global Health Council serves as a platform for shared voices on the global cross-cutting health issues, which promotes and catalyses and inclusive community of diverse organizations and people. The organization also challenges the status quo of health policies and calls on action that has both local and global impact. Last, but not least, it promotes collaborative action and is committed to human development through better health worldwide.

#4 VillageReach

The Village Reach was established in 2000 and since then it works on improving access to healthcare in developing countries by partnering with businesses, governments, and other organizations, with an aim to strengthen local infrastructure in rural areas and facilitate the delivery of medical supplies. The headquarters of the organization is in Seattle, Washington, the US, with countries offices in Mozambique, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

The organization works on improving capacity of health workers to deliver quality health care and improves availability of vaccines and medicines, so that people have access to the treatment they need. It also works on integrating data driven decision-making at all levels of the health system since smart decisions lead to improved health.

#5 Fistula Foundation

The Fistula Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to treating the obstetric fistula in developing countries, which often occur when labor is obstructed during childbirth and leave women incontinent, which of often ruins their lives leaving them on the margins of the society. Their communities and their husbands often abandon then because of the smell. The obstetric fistula is common when women go to labor at home, without access to professional medical help.

The Fistula Foundation issues grants to partner organizations on an invitation basis and provides them with human and financial resources that serve as many women as possible with the treatment they need. The organization works closely with hospitals and doctors to meet the local needs and makes sure that its funding is spent on the treatment at facilities that are known and have access to qualified fistula surgeons.

#6 International Child Care

International Child Care (ICC) is a Christian health development organization that operates in Haiti since 1967 and in the Dominican Republic since 1988 to eradicate poverty that impacts health and well-being. The vision of ICC is “health and wholeness for children and families in empowered communities”.

The ICC aims to achieve three goals. First, it works to prevent illness amongst children and their families through immunization, oral re-hydration, vitamin A distribution, prenatal care, clean water projects and training of health careers. Second, it promotes health for children and their families through health education, reproductive health services and community rehabilitation for children with disabilities. Third, it restores health for children and adults who suffer from tuberculosis and HIV.  The ICC is committed to respect and ensure the respect of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children.

#7 SIGN Fracture Care International

SIGN Fracture Care International (SIGN) is an international organization with a mission to “give the injured poor access to fracture surgery by donating orthopedic education and implant systems in developing countries”. The organization provides orthopedic treatment to trauma victims by training and equipping local surgeons.

The organization develops innovative implant systems in low-resources hospital to treat patients. These systems enable hospitals to treat patients without expensive x-ray imaging or electricity. The organization provides healing to the injured poor. SIGN Surgery enables people with severely broken bones to walk within one week of surgery.


UNICEF is one of the largest UN agencies dedicated to helping children in need. It works around the world to help children survive and thrive. Amongst many programs, the UNICEF implements the health care projects that are mostly focused on maternal, newborn and child survival, child and adolescent health and well-being, strengthening of the health systems and health in emergencies and humanitarian settings.

UNICEF implements immunization programs to prevent maternal, newborn and child deaths and provides curative services to prevent pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and other diseases affecting children. It helps children and adolescents to build a solid foundation for adulthood and helps countries combat non-communicable diseases. It also supports primary health care at community levels to help achieve access to universal health coverage. Last, but not least, the organizes the organization tackles health challenges in places affected by conflicts, natural disasters, migration, urbanization, and political and economic instability.

#9 Partners in Health

Partners in Health is an international organization which cares for patients in their homes and communities in developing countries. The mission of organization is to “provide a preferential option for the poor in health care.” At its root, the mission of the Partners in Health is both medical and moral one, since it is based on solidarity rather than charity.

The organization collaborates and partners with local governments and the world’s leading medical and academic institutions to strengthen health systems and build capacities. The Partners in Health works to achieve two goals: to bring benefits of modern medical science those who are unable to afford health care and to serve as an antidote to despair.

#10 Shot@Life

Shot@Life is an organization that ensures that children around the globe have access to lifesaving vaccines. The organization provides vaccinations for children who are less fortunate, so they will not get affected by preventable diseases.

The organization uses advocacy tools to raise awareness amongst the public, businesses and other civil society organizations across the United States. So far, over 350.000 supporters and 2.000 grassroots advocates in all 50 states of the US strive to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at life no matter where they live.

#11 The Alliance for International Medical Action

The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) was founded in 2009 with an aim “to treat and care for as many people as it can”. Since then, it has treated more than two million patients and conducted 56 programs in 13 countries, with a focus on malnutrition, malaria, Ebola, and surgery.

The organization gathers the expertise of global research institutions, international aid workers and national medical organizations to help people in need and contribute to the humanitarian medicine. The organization conducts research related to trauma surgery, pediatric care, Ebola treatment and prevention, and nutrition and works closely with local and national medical organization to provide care to people who live in some of the most neglected communities in the world.

#12 AMREF Health Africa

AMREF Health Africa is one of the largest African based NGOs with seat in Nairobi, Kenya. It severs around nine million people per year in almost 35 countries located in sub-Saharan African. Currently, it conducts over 130 community-based programs in 30 African countries, with a goal to reach as many people as possible.

Through its programs, the organization strengthens health systems and trains health works to respond to the most challenging and critical health issues in Africa. This often includes child death, maternal health, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, surgical services, the lack of access to sanitation and water, and access to quality diagnostic. It also tackles other infectious and noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. The organization mostly employs Africans, so that it always tackles African challenges with African expertise.

#13 Bridge of Life

Bridge of Life (BoL) is an international non-profit organization working globally to strengthen healthcare, mainly through sustainable programs that treat and prevent chronic disease. The vision of BoL is a world where all human beings has access to quality healthcare. The organization empowers local community health workers and patients through education and training to achieve sustainable changes in healthcare.

Ever since it was established in 2006, BoL impacted the lives of over 118.000 people through 179 international medical missions in 30 countries and 310 domestic events. BoL’s programs include kidney care, through which it establishes local partnerships to improve kidney care for people who suffer from the renal disease, and chronic disease prevention, through which it controls and prevents kidney disease through health education and screening. The organization also works with health professionals at medical camps for kids.

#14 Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

CHANGE was established in 1994 to advocate for voluntary family planning and services, and to mobilize. Since then, it has trained and mobilized many US grassroots leaders to be a voice for change in US foreign policy debates that affect sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The efforts of the organization are focused in three areas-public policy, research, and outreach and constituency building. CHANGE advocates for foreign policies that are integrated, woman-centered, and human rights based, with a focus on the impact policies have on family planning, maternal health and HIV. It also conducts research to inform and hold the US government accountable for its policy and funding decision. Last, but not least, CHANGE conducts US foreign policy education and advocacy trainings, and mobilizes its grassroots network of women’s and student groups, HIV activists, faith-based organizations, and reproductive justice advocates at key moments to influence policy decisions.

#15 Combat Blindness International

Combat Blindness was founded with a mission “to eliminate preventable blindness worldwide by providing sustainable, equitable solutions for sight through partnerships and innovation”. Currently, the organization implements four international programs-the international cataract program, certified ophthalmic paramedic program, international pediatric program, and eye care infrastructure.

The organization supports low cost and high-volume cataract surgeries and, in this way, directly supports individuals who suffer from the condition. It also combats childhood blindness by supporting early screening and proper treatment of children and in this way gives them an opportunity to learn and thrive. Combat Blindness also establishes surgical centers and assists people affected by poverty to have access to medical care.

#16 Core Group

CORE Group was established in 1997 with an aim to convene professionals and practitioners in global health community to share knowledge, best practices and evidence, that would be translated into the real world with a direct impact, creating new standards in public and clinical health.

The organization works on advancing community health by developing case studies and analyzing data from the field. It also creates training curricula and conducts workshops related to community prevention and care, with a focus on maternal mortality, infectious diseases and childhood illness. The CORE Group also assists global organizations and NGOs to develop secretariats and networks. The most recent efforts include activities on malaria, polio and pandemic preparedness in India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

#17 Doctors of the World

Doctors of the World is an organization that believes that healthcare is a human right. Therefore, the organization serves more than 1.6 million people around the world, through 400 programs in over 80 countries worldwide. Doctors of the World are present in conflict zones, refugee camps and rural communities, with a mandate to create infrastructure, provide care and advocate for the most vulnerable.

Doctors of the World works in emergency situations to build sustainable and long-term health solutions. The organization’s staff are professionals in primary health care, sexual and reproductive health, HIV and infectious diseases, who work with a mission to help all people who are excluded from healthcare systems.

#18 The Syrian American Medical Society

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) is an international medical relief organization that is working on crisis relief in Syria to save lives and alleviate suffering. It provides medical care to every patient in need. The mission of the organization is to ‘’deliver life-saving services, revitalizes health systems during crisis, and promote medical education via a network of humanitarians in the US, Syria and beyond’’.

SAMS is currently active in Syria, where it supports healthcare by sponsoring hospitals and ambulances, training and paying salaries of Syrian medical personnel and sending medical equipment and lifesaving humanitarian aid in the most needed zones. The organization also supports Syrian refugees by providing psychosocial support, medical and dental care and similar.

#19 Project C.U.R.E

Ever since it was established in 1987, Project C.U.R.E has been active in delivering medical equipment and supplies to clinics and hospitals in developing countries. The organization is one of the biggest distributors of donated medical relied, affecting lives of people in more than 130 countries.

The Project C.U.R.E delivers three to five trucks of medical equipment and supplies each week to hospitals and clinics that desperately need it. It sends hundreds of healthcare professionals to communities in need, to provide medical assistance. The organization is focused on prevention and treatment of diseases such as HIV, malaria, Ebola, and tuberculosis. The organization also works with healthcare professionals to treat victims of natural disasters.

#20 Physicians for Peace

Physicians for Peace is an international organization that educates and trains healthcare workers in under-resourced communities and expands their skills and medical knowledge base. Through its programs, the organization trains and helps local surgeons to heal patients in their own communities.

Physicians for Peace combine training with theory to teach new techniques in surgery and supports each community where it works, through the network of partners. It also identifies appropriate equipment, curriculum and policies to develop the best practices and local capacities. The organization ensures that its partners have resources and knowledge and empowers them to develop their capacities and make decision to work in sustainable healthy communities.

#21 MedShare

MedShare is an international humanitarian aid organization that is dedicated to saving lives of people by providing them with surplus medical supplies and equipment. The organization helps increase health systems capacities by providing biomedical equipment training and services to medical professionals and healthcare organizations who serve populations in need.

So far, MedShare has delivered lifesaving medical supplies to over 100 countries and has provided biomedical training to over 7.000 healthcare professionals in 18 countries. The delivery of vital medical supplies and equipment by MedShare has helped save many lives across the world, that were provided by hundreds of hospitals and corporations operating in developed countries.

#22 Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is an organization that helps people in crisis dying from preventable causes. The organization currently operates in the US, Syria, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Tanzania, Liberia, Haiti and Guatemala.

The organization delivers medical equipment and supplies to communities in need, such as vaccines and other types of medicines. It also supports and trains local health care staff and makes sure that clinics have enough supplies and medicines. The organization empowers local communities with knowledge about health, to be able to care for themselves and their neighbors.

#23 Islamic Medical Association of North America IMANA

IMANA was founded in 1967 as a network of American-Muslim physicians, dentists and other healthcare workers in North America. The organization provides professional networking opportunities for healthcare workers and acts as a resource for medical ethics from an Islamic perspective to medical professionals and educational institutions.

IMANA provides mentoring for medical students and implements medical relief programs to respond to disasters. It also helps build healthcare capacities and facilitate medical knowledge transfer around the world. The organization provides basic healthcare services in underserved communities, while its hospitals, clinics, collaborative projects and basic health units provide care to poor populations.

#24 IntraHealth International

Established as a global health nonprofit organization in 1979, IntraHealth International has worked in over 100 countries and helped improve the performance of health works and strengthen the systems in which they have, so that all people everywhere have access to healthcare they need.

The organization partners with governments, technologists, artists, businesses and activists to produce solutions for local communities, that would have long-term and lasting results. The programs that the organization implements produce both social and economic impacts that keep communities around the globe healthy. In 2018, the IntraHealth International has reached 341.445 health workers, who provided healthcare to millions of people around the world.

#25 International Medical Health Organization

International Medical Health Organization (IMHO) is a global health nonprofit organization which works to improve and develop healthcare services and infrastructure in unserved communities around the world. IMGO would established by a volunteer group of doctors and other professionals, who shared a vision for improved global medical and health care.

The organization empowers communities to build their own health systems to be able to respond to health need. It partners with local and international NGOS to better reach and provide assistance to communities in needs. Its work is focused on primary and public healthcare, health education and training, and capacity building.

#26 International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps was established by volunteer doctors and nurses in 1984 as global, humanitarian nonprofit organization with a mission to improve quality of lives of people through health interventions and build local capacities in vulnerable communities around the world.

Since 1984, the International Medical Corps has serve tens of millions of people in more than 80 countries, delivering medical relief and trainings valued more than 2.9 billion dollars. The organization delivers emergency healthcare to people affected by conflict, natural disasters and epidemics, no matter where they are and in which conditions. It also trains health care to local communities and people in highest rights, to be able to quickly respond to emergency situations. International Medical Corps rehabilitates devastated healthcare systems by providing them with development programs.

#27 Cure Blindness

Cure Blindness is an international nonprofit organization that aspires to cure global blindness, treating one patient at the time. It delivers cataract care to people who are underserved in developing countries.

The core goal of the organization is to achieve high-quality and low-cost eye care that can be sustained in developing world for long-term. Cure blindness currently conducts its programs in Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Rwanda.The biggest project that Cure Blindness currently implements is the Himalayan Cataract Project. So far, its doctors have performed more than 445.000 cataract surgeries in developing countries through improvised mobile eye camps and walk-in clinics.

#28 World Hope International

World Hope International (WHI) is a Christian relief and development organization working with vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice. The vision of the organization is “to provide those in need with opportunity, dignity, and hope so they can possess the tools for change in themselves, their family, and their community”. WHI supports all people regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, or religion.

WHI is committed to intervening to help improve health of children, women and families. The organization works in local communities to ensure access to health and nutrition services for all people, especially those who are the most vulnerable. Together with hospital doctors, physical therapists, community health workers, medical students and volunteers, WHI strengthens the health systems so that everyone is able to afford healthcare.

#29 WellShare International

WellShare is Minessota-based nonprofit organization that helps people live healthier lives by connecting them with care and essential health knowledge in their communities. It provides information, resources, and connections to service East African and immigrant communities and trains health works and decision-makers to optimize appropriate and culturally relevant care.

WellShare trains health workers to provide various health service, including the promotion of a tobacco-free lifestyle, prevention of chronic diseases, promotion of healthy lifestyles amongst youth, family planning, as well as skills for immigrants and refugees to navigate the US health system. The programs that organization implements target and reach pregnant women, infants, children, youth, adults and elderly.

#30 ReSurge International

Resurge’s mission is “to provide reconstructive surgical care and build surgical capacity in developing countries”. The organization provides timely, affordable and safe reconstructive surgical care and build the surgical capacities in developing countries. Each year, ReSurge improves health of thousands of children and adult so they can provide for their families, attend school and contribute to society.

The goal of the organization is to enhance the skills of reconstructive plastic surgeons in their countries to increase access to surgical care for the poor. The organization transforms lives patient’s lives by restoring function through the full scope of reconstructive plastic surgery and sends volunteer teams of medical professionals from the US and other countries to countries in which it serves, to provide ancillary and surgical care to local patients.

About the author

Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.