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Atlantic’s Health Equity Champions

Resource type: News

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

Our grantees have led the way to fairer and better health care around the world. Meet some of them.

Photo: Magnum Foundation

One of the best things about working at The Atlantic Philanthropies is that we have the privilege of supporting extraordinary leaders and organizations to advance opportunity, equity and dignity around the world.

For years, Atlantic has invested in expanding the availability of health services and building a talented health care workforce. Our grantees work toward a lofty but achievable goal: to enable more people to live as well as they can for as long as they can.

Read the latest update on our health initiatives.

What’s health equity?

“The attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.” (Healthy People 2020)

We believe access to affordable, quality health care is a fundamental human right and that, with the right resources and leadership, disparities in care can be decreased and equity enhanced.

Below are just a few of our health equity champions.

Ha Noi School of Public Health

Viet Nam

Supported by Atlantic in 2001, the Ha Noi School of Public Health has graduated over 1,700 bachelors, masters and doctors of public health with growing numbers expected for years to come. As a result, there are now hundreds of practicing family medicine doctors in the community, with hundreds more being trained aiming to have a family practitioner in every commune district within the next 10 years.

How did Atlantic’s grantees work to improve public health and primary health care in Viet Nam — and what lessons did we learn along the way?

Beginning in 1999, Atlantic has invested nearly $270 million in the Vietnamese health sector to help raise standards; train doctors and nurses; develop the social work, mental health service, and palliative care fields; build hospitals and clinics; and expand access to primary and preventive care across the country. Atlantic’s funding built or revitalized roughly 900 local commune health centers that now provide over 9 million people with quality primary health care services.

To learn more about Atlantic’s health equity work in Viet Nam, go here.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

South Africa

The tireless efforts of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a longtime Atlantic grantee, ignited a movement that united people across race, ethnicity and class; built coalitions; and used the courts, peaceful protest and civil disobedience to gain universal access to HIV antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for all South Africans.

TAC’s activism resulted in 2 million more people gaining access to antiretroviral medication and a 70 percent reduction in perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS between 2010 and 2012.

The Treatment Action Campaign’s struggle for antiretroviral treatment united people across race and class in one of the most extraordinary struggles in post-apartheid South Africa.

Between 2000 and 2013, Atlantic invested $134 million in health in South Africa, to increase the number and distribution of rural health professionals, develop primary health care systems, modernize surgical facilities and technology, and amplify the voices of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

To learn more about Atlantic’s health equity work in South Africa, go here.

Latin American Medical School (ELAM)


Cuba’s ability to create a world-class health care system, despite having few resources, attracted Atlantic to begin making grants there in 2002.

Grants made through the U.S.-based group MEDICC have supported scholarships to Havana’s world-renowned Latin American Medical School (ELAM) for students from Africa, Asia and the Americas who make a commitment to return home and work in underserved communities.

MEDICC’s Gail Reed profiles Havana’s Latin American Medical School (ELAM), which trains global physicians to serve the local communities that need them most.

The school has enriched the medical education of more than 30,000 low-income and socially committed future doctors, in turn touching the lives of more than 23 million people across continents, and most recently helping end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Health Care for America Now (HCAN)

United States

Starting in 2008, Atlantic helped fund an extraordinary campaign to push for the affordable health care that so many Americans so desperately need. As a result of the successful advocacy of grantees like HCAN, the Affordable Care Act now provides millions of Americans with lifesaving health insurance coverage.

Atlantic has supported groups working in the United States to make changes that will lead to better coordination of care within the health care system and in communities — improvement that will increase the quality of care while reducing costs.

To learn more about Atlantic’s health equity work in the U.S., go here.

Global Brain Health Institute

Republic of Ireland and United States

As our older populations grow globally, the impact of dementia is rising sharply, affecting individuals, families and nations at an unprecedented scale.

Two longtime Atlantic grantees — the University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin — launched, with Atlantic’s support, the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI). At $177 million, this is the largest single non-capital grant in our foundation’s history.

GBHI will train at least 600 global leaders over 15 years in the United States, Ireland and around the world to carry out dementia research, deliver health care, and change policies and practices in their regions.

Related Resources



Global Impact:

Cuba, South Africa, United States, Viet Nam