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Health Equity: Cuba, South Africa, the United States, and Viet Nam

Yarol Yamel, 3, is examined by Dr. Janisleydis Rosado for bronchial asthma at walk-in clinic Number 15, La Santa Fe, Isle of Youth.
Yarol Yamel, 3, is examined by Dr. Janisleydis Rosado for bronchial asthma at walk-in clinic Number 15, La Santa Fe, Isle of Youth.


Although Cuba’s health care system is considered to be one of the best in the world, in the early 2000s, it suffered from a lack of resources.  From 2002 until 2015, Atlantic funded additional resources needed to deliver the best possible health care to all Cuban citizens. Working in Cuba also provided valuable lessons on patient-centered health care that could be shared globally. The Atlantic Charitable Trust, a UK trust, provided the funding for this work.

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  • Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) disseminates lessons from the Cuban
    Dr. Castillo examines a young patient. Photo: C. Gorry, MEDICC

    public health experience. In 2016, President Obama adopted key MEDICC recommendations contained in “A Safer, Healthier Future through U.S.-Cuba Cooperation”.

  • Since 2008, The Health Equity Network (THEnet) has facilitated the transformation of medical education and medical practice into socially accountable endeavors that improve health system equity and performance by providing a collaborative platform conducive to experimentation, evaluation, dialogue and global sharing of the experience and evidence based gathered through the project.
  • Since its establishment in 2005, Latin American Medical School (ELAM) has uniquely provided a medical education for doctors and other healthcare workers who intend to work with underrepresented communities throughout Latin America.

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Dr. Lungile Hobe treats a patient.
Dr. Lungile Hobe treats a patient. Dr. Hobe is part of a group of young professionals committed to improving the health of impoverished rural South Africans overwhelmed by HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis. Among them are more than 116 graduates supported by Atlantic-grantee Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF, formerly Friends of Mosvold).

South Africa

In addition to our commitment to fostering democracy and social equity in South Africa, we have also focused on improving health care access to all South Africans. We have done this through supporting programs to train and place health care professionals in rural communities. Atlantic also funded  advocates who forced the government to make antiretroviral medicine available to people with HIV/AIDS.

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  • Africa Health Placements has created strategies to recruit qualified foreign and local private-sector health professionals to work in the rural public health sector to alleviate the critical shortage of skilled medical staff there.
  • Created by Health Systems Trust, Health-e News reports well-researched and in depth health news in order to educate the public, particularly in rural areas.

    Ncedeka Mbunye, 14, poses for a portrait while wearing a T-shirt distributed by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly
  • Health Systems Trust has improved the South African government’s capacity  for the implementation of Primary Health Care (PHC) Re-engineering Programme, which increased universal coverage and access to quality health services, with a focus on improving mother and child health.
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal started the Virtual School for Nursing to provide tele-education for rural nursing education in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The Treatment Action Campaign has been one of the most effective organisations campaigning for AIDS treatment in the developing world. Its achievements include the 2002 Constitutional Court ruling in which the South African government was ordered to provide anti-retroviral drugs to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies during birth.

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The United States

 Beginning in 2006, Atlantic began investing in better health outcomes for Americans, and have since made grants totally nearly $200 million towards health system reform. Through our work, we have invested in a grassroots campaign that helped win passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), supported groups that enrolled children and young adults in health insurance plans, ensured that the ACA lived up to its promises, and invested in creating policies that put patients first and that create incentives to deliver health care more efficiently, boost quality and lower costs.

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  • Health Care for America Now successfully created a grassroots campaign, which was instrumental in the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.

    HCAN organized rally in Times Square, 2009. Photo by Janice Caswell.
  • The “KidsWell” campaign helped states step up efforts to enroll low-income parents in health coverage made possible by passage of the ACA.
  • Community Catalyst successfully supported the expansion of Medicaid to over one million low-income uninsured adults in Pennsylvania, Montana, Alaska and Louisiana, thereby reducing the number of uninsured adults by 25 percent nationwide.
  • The Campaign for Better Care, launched in 2010 as a joint initiative by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Community Catalyst, and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), worked to strengthen the voice of vulnerable populations in order to get their healthcare needs met.
  • Vital Healthcare Capital (V-Cap) provided loans and development services to nonprofit, mission-driven health care plans and providers that deliver critical services and create good health care jobs within disadvantaged and under-served communities.

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Viet Nam

Atlantic’s work in Viet Nam began in 1998, with a profound focus on population health. In addition to supporting a nationwide campaign to end smoking and an initiative that resulted in a national law mandating helmet use by motorcycle riders, Atlantic sought to increase access to healthcare for all Vietnamese.

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