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Non Governmental Organisations

There are currently over 40,000 internationally operating non governmental organisations (NGOs). Therefore the list below is not exhaustive by any means but offers information and links to the main organisations who are involved in international health.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is an international, non-governmental, non-religious, non-profit making organisation with programmes in 43 different countries. Its vocation is to save live, especially those of malnourished children, and to work with vulnerable populations to preserve and resource their livelihoods with dignity.

For over 25 years, Action Against Hunger has been at the forefront of the fight against hunger and malnutrition worldwide. Our teams do their utmost day after day to ensure that people are given access to the most basic human rights – the right to food. Action against Hunger teams provide for people’s immediate needs when food is scarce, and provide families with the tools, seeds and support they need to build a sustainable future.

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Action Aid

ActionAid is a unique partnership of people who are fighting for a world without poverty, in which every person can exercise their right to a life of dignity. It works with poor and marginalised people to help eradicate poverty by overcoming the injustice and inequity that cause it.

Its strategic priorities are:

  • women’s rights
  • the right to education
  • the right to food
  • the right to human security in conflict and emergencies
  • the right to life and dignity in the face of HIV and AIDS
  • the right to just and democratic governance.

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Child Family Health International

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is an NGO that specialises in placing health science students on global health education programs in five different countries spread over twenty different sites. They support local healthcare workers in a socially responsible and sustainable way with a priority to community engagement and local integrity. So far over 5000 students have enrolled from over 35 countries.

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Drugs for Neglected Diseases

In 2003, seven organisations from around the world joined forces to establish Drugs for Neglected Disease (DND) : five public sector institutions – the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation from Brazil, the Indian Council for Medical Research, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia and France’s Pasteur Institute; one humanitarian organisation, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF); and one international research organisation, the UNDP / World Bank/WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), which acts as a permanent observer to the initiative.

For 30 years, MSF has directly witnessed the human cost of the lack of drugs for neglected diseases and has raised its voice against this inequity; the Pasteur Institute invests heavily in biological research on infectious diseases; TDR works on 10 neglected infectious diseases that affect poor and marginalised populations; the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation dedicates its resources to medical R&D; the Indian Council for Medical Research sponsors and coordinates medical research in India; and the Malaysian Ministry of Health is dedicated to building partnerships for health. The DNDi became a legal entity in July 2003.

The initiative fosters collaboration both amongst developing countries and between developing and developed countries. Its design is a blend of centralised management to give it a clear project-specific focus, and decentralised operations that mimic modern drug companies.

DNDi does not conduct research and scientific work to develop drugs itself. Instead, it capitalises on existing, fragmented R&D capacity, especially in the developing world, and complements it with additional expertise as needed. This “virtual organisation” model helps cut costs.

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HealthProm is an international development non-profit organisation working with local communities to improve health and social care for vulnerable women and children in the countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We give priority to prevention and early intervention in the life of mother and child by working through partnership projects with local community groups and non-profit organisations, healthcare administrations and training institutes.

HealthProm is primarily focused on the health of mother and child, with priority given to prevention and early intervention. Through infection control, safe childbirth, and child mental health projects, HealthProm advocates high-quality practice in healthcare rather than a reliance on technology.

Multidisciplinary teamwork, including midwives, obstetricians, epidemiologists and hospital specialists in infection control and child mental health, constitute the core of our partnership projects. Our partners develop strong ties across what have been rigid boundaries within the regional healthcare system. HealthProm’s projects are always created with sustainability in mind. Special attention is paid to resources beyond training, to ensure that projects can be replicated in the future. HealthProm, for example, provides basic equipment where needed. If possible we include local materials into the undergraduate training of medical and midwifery students in the area.

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Health Poverty Action

Health Poverty Action works with some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, often in very difficult environments.  It works to enable these communities to achieve both immediate and long-term improvements to their health, promoting this as one of their fundamental human rights. At the same time we campaign for the changes in policies and practices needed to create and sustain good health among the world’s poorest people.

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Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation

Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) was founded in 2003 for the conservation of Cambodia's endangered Cardamon mountains. Since then they have extended the field projects to include; health, education, rural planning, agriculture and micro-enterprise. They are working towards achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

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Medact is a global health charity tackling issues at the centre of international policy debates. Led by its health professional membership it undertakes education, research and advocacy on the health implications of conflict, development and environmental change, with a special focus on the developing world.

Medact speaks out for countless people across the globe whose health, wellbeing and access to proper health care are severely compromised by the effects of war, poverty and environmental damage.

It campaigns and lobbies governments, international bodies and other influential organisations. It calls on them to take positive action on preventing violent conflict, improving health and on raising the standards of health care worldwide.

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Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF)

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters or exclusion from healthcare.

In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centres for malnourished children and offers mental health care. When needed, MSF also constructs wells, dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting.

Through longer-term programmes, MSF treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness and HIV/AIDS and provides medical and psychological care to marginalised groups such as street children.

Founded by doctors and journalists in 1971, MSF is now a worldwide movement with sections in 19 countries and an international coordination office in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships started out in 1978 after the purchase of a retired ocean liner which was converted into a floating hospital. The ship has 3 operating theatres, a 40 bed ward and a volunteer crew of 350. Since then their fleet has expanded and they have served in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world.

Mercy Ships provide free surgery, medical care and works with local communities by training local staff and offering advice. Some of the services that they provide include, repairing obstetric fistula, dental surgery, repair of cleft lip and palate, removal of tumours and corrective surgery for congenital orthopaedic abnormalities.

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Merlin is an international health charity that was set up in 1993 by three friends who decided to create a specialist charity which responded to international disasters. Since 1993 they have worked in 39 countries and responded to disasters such as the Rwandan genocide, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and the Myanmar cyclone.

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Project C.U.R.E

Project C.U.R.E was founded in 1987 with a goal of delivering medical supplies, equipment and services to developing countries around the world. Since it was set up it has delivered much needed medical relief to people in over 120 countries.

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RedR helps to rebuild people’s lives by providing international aid workers with the skills they need to make a difference.

  • Build the skills of local people and communities in areas of disaster
  • Deliver expert training in the UK and in the field
  • Advise international relief and development organisations
  • Recruit humanitarian professionals who can respond to emergencies or take longer-term placements 
  • Provide online expertise to aid workers on assignment
  • Support a network of members who are vital to humanitarian work.

In the event of emergencies RedR will select and train engineers responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene promotion and brief aid workers before they travel to the region. It will also continue to build the skills of local people after the emergency has subsided and run security training directly in unstable regions. Its UK training courses are used year-round by relief and development professionals to improve their skills in a vast range of topics, including preparing for emergencies and camp management.

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The Tropical Health Education Trust (THET)

THET is committed to improving access to and the quality of health services in developing countries. It believes that the most effective way of doing this is to work in partnership with those delivering and running health care, helping to strengthen and extend existing services.

It helps forge long term links between health institutions in developing countries and their counterparts in the UK. Partners identify priorities for strengthening their health services. It respond by linking them with a health institution in the UK that has the knowledge and skills to help them to address these priorities. Once the Link has been established it continues to provide advice and support, such as accessing funding, evaluation and networking, and it connects Links with Government strategy.

In some countries its work extends even further. In Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Somaliland and Uganda it works with partners to find new ways of meeting health needs - helping modify ways of working, extend existing services or developing ways of delivering health services. Most, but not all, of these initiatives develop from Links. Guided by its partners, it often focuses on meeting the needs of people who have least access to services, for example; those in rural areas or those affected by neglected health conditions.

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Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

VSO was voted top international development charity in the International Aid and Development category at the Charity Awards 2004 for its work in promoting innovative approaches to globalising volunteering.

Its approach to volunteering has changed dramatically over the years. Its volunteers are no longer only school-leavers - today the average age of a volunteer is 38, the majority coming from skilled, professional backgrounds. Most placements are for two years, but can also be as short as one month. It is a leading development charity with almost 1,500 skilled professionals currently working in 34 countries. It responds to requests from governments and community organisations throughout Asia and Africa.

The volunteers aim to pass on their expertise to local people so that when they return home their skills remain. Volunteers can be aged between 18 and 75 years old and must have a formal qualification and some work experience. Regular postings are for two years and volunteers are provided with accommodation and a local level allowance as well as air fares and insurance.

It is actively recruiting volunteers all the time. The range of jobs is vast, and includes small business advisors, teachers, social workers, health professionals, management consultants, marine biologists, accountants and farmers.

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WISH (Worldwide Initiatives for Sustainable Health Care in Africa)

WISH 4 AFRICA‘s mission is to deliver sustainable healthcare projects to African communities by providing healthcare establishments and healthcare workers with the support they need to be efficient, independent and economically viable.

Our vision is to provide affordable and good quality healthcare that is geographically and economically relevant to the average African.

To achieve its mission and vision, it has focused primarily on three main projects:

  • Healthcare Micro-finance Fund
  • Pharmacy Fund
  • Community Healthcare Provider Network

The goals of these projects are:

  • Increase access of healthcare professionals to micro-financing and funding at affordable terms
  • Empower healthcare professionals through capacity-building activities and provision of technical and managerial assistance
  • Reduce the menace of fake drugs by increasing access of community pharmacists to generic drugs and other essential medicines
  • Reduce the barriers of entry for doctors and pharmacists wishing to practice within their communities
  • Increase access of the poor and low income groups to affordable and good quality healthcare.


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