Anera & Americares: 25 Years of Partnership in Medical Aid
Two principles stand as cornerstones in the enduring partnership built by Anera and Americares: efficiency and impact. For 25 years, shipments of medical aid and supplies requested by health workers have allowed local organizations to respond to the direct needs of communities deprived of health resources across Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
“Together we helped hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children receive their medicines in dignity, every day for 25 years,” said Dima Zayat, deputy country director for Lebanon.
Americares was one of the first organizations to lay the right foundation for its in-kind program, responsibly providing communities across the world with diverse medicines and supplies to meet their expressed needs. Anera soon followed their lead in strengthening its own foundation, and Americares became one of the first committed partners to Anera’s in-kind program.
“We improved our database and narrowed down our needs after visiting our local partners and made changes to our tracking, inventory and distribution systems, logistics, and practices,” said Hani Khleif, in-kind director for the West Bank. “We developed profiles of each of our local partners and charitable health organizations with comprehensive information about them and each clinic’s needs.”
A shared commitment to efficiency, transparency, and reliability has guided the partnership since its inception. Anera quickly caught up with Americares’ level and standards, and was honored by Americares’ recognition of its dedication to professionalism and transparency.
During periods when local health organizations are in dire need of specific medicines and supplies, in-kind medical donations that are not managed with the high levels of efficiency and transparency often end up expiring unused. Mostafa Al Ghosain, in-kind manager for Gaza, recalls that when a large-scale offensive was launched against Gaza in 2008, many medicines were delivered from different donors wanting to respond to the crisis. But, often, says Al Ghosain, “much of that medication ended up being dumped, because it wasn’t what was needed.”
“Americares allows us to select based on the needs,” continued Al Ghosain. “They could offer 50 items, but we might only choose 20, for instance, after consulting with the recipient clinics and judging whether the items can be used before they expire. Scores of Americares shipments have been successfully used.”
The partnership has allowed for millions of dollars worth of medical supplies to reach local community partners each year. “Performance-wise, Americares’ partners have to be on their same level of professionalism in order to succeed in their mission,” states Khleif. “They have that relationship with Anera.”
Since 1993, Americares has donated and Anera has distributed 213 shipments of medicine and health care supplies, worth nearly $318 million, to Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.
The donations go to local clinics that are rooted in the communities they serve. By supporting them, Anera builds their capacity so they can best respond to patients’ needs. Anera’s in-kind program removes some of the financial pressures from local health organizations, helping them to provide free medicines and services for vulnerable communities.
The needs are particularly acute in Gaza. “There is a chronic shortage of medicine and medical supplies in Gaza resulted from limited resources and financial restrictions due to political situations, blockade, three wars, and a myriad of difficult times,” explains Al Ghosain. “All of this has impacted the overall situation. And it has gravely affected the health sector.”
The Anera-Americares partnership, built on reliability and credibility from a distance, has been bolstered by a series of visits between members of the organizations. Americares project managers have visited Anera’s West Bank and Lebanon operations several times, including a visit to health centers in Gaza most recently visit in 2016. Upon seeing the state of clinics in Palestine and the support they lacked during the first visit in 2007, Americares decided to increase their donations.
“When you see the urgent needs on the ground, it motivates you to manage these donations better and not waste time,” said Khleif. “Americares know that the medications we receive from them are put to their best use and do not end up being discarded. They know their shipments are reaching people in desperate need for them.”
The Anera in-kind staff also had the opportunity to visit the Americares’ headquarters and warehouse in the United States in 2011, where they met with staff and higher management. “They were amazing, and their mission was to help the most needy people worldwide,” said Al Ghosain. “They do an incredible amount of work to achieve a long-lasting impact.”
Americares has proven to be a loyal partner in the shared mission of easing the impact of occupation and poverty on the most vulnerable Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. From July 2017 to May 2018 alone, Americares sent four shipments by sea and air with medical supplies, ranging from stents and catheters to amoxicillin and other medicines, valued at over $14 million.
The organization has also proved especially loyal during critical times. “They give a priority to Gaza during hard times,” said Al Ghosain. “Their consistent support prior, during, and post emergencies gives us the ability to respond efficiently with exactly what is needed.”
Zayat emphasized the value that Americares’ loyalty has in providing health services for the communities most desperate for supplies. “Over the past few years, I sometimes worried political instabilities and complicated bureaucratic systems in Lebanon would discourage the Americares administration from supporting my country. But it never happened. They never gave up on the people who need them the most.”
Anera is proud and highly appreciative of the robust partnership between the organizations. “We have worked very hard on sculpting and molding this relationship into what it is today,” said Khleif.