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CRS believes that people should be empowered to make their own decisions and solve their own problems. This is also known in Catholic social teaching as the principle of subsidiarity. In The Philippines, CRS helped identify and train local leaders in basic health services. Hilda was among those chosen given her willingness to serve her community members."We got the support of the local government to construct a permanent health center and to hire a midwife. Health services improved and we are now encouraged to visit the health center regularly," she said.

Through the initiative of community members and health volunteers like Hilda, potable water systems and latrines were also installed in the village.

Malaria: Success Against a Persistent Disease

A nurse in a community setting takes a blood sample from a child to determine if the child has anemia (as malaria is a leading cause of anemia) using a HemoCue photometer. Photo by Suzanne Van Hulle/CRS

Along multiple fronts and with strong partnerships, CRS pushes to counter a grim and too often fatal mosquito borne illness. Learn more.

Community Health Program Overview

CRS' community health program prioritizes activities that have been proven effective, and the establishment of sustainable community groups capable of coordinating activities with health and development partners. CRS' programs focus on child survival, maternal and child health development and HIV and AIDS .

CRS' health programs promote social justice, the preservation of human rights and dignity by targeting the most marginalized communities and enabling them to address their own basic health needs. Programs are carried out in partnership with local public, church, and other private institutions.

Future goals for the community health program include:

  • Continuing to offer health services in areas where programs exist.
  • Extending current services by collaborating with governments and local organizations to increase the amount and types of services available.
  • Finding innovative ways to empower communities to manage and finance these programs.

Who Do These Activities Reach?

CRS operates community health programs in 26 countries serving approximately 3.5 million people. CRS focuses on providing healthcare for vulnerable groups in marginalized, unserved or underserved communities. Health programs target communities with poor health statistics, limited access to or low quality health services and low socioeconomic status. Priority is given to those who are at greatest risk, typically women of reproductive age, infants and very young children.

CRS' programs help meet the basic needs of millions of people worldwide by providing food assistance, clean and safe water, and quality health services (health facility infrastructure, health worker training, medical treatments and prevention activities) among other things. CRS also aims to empower communities with the information needed to preserve and control their own health.

Background of CRS' Community Health Program

For many years CRS was known for its implementation of food distribution programs, supported by the U.S. Government and carried out in medical clinics around the world. Over the past decade, these programs have slowly been moved out of clinics and into communities with a new emphasis on developing community capacity to manage its own health development.

In addition, much more attention is now focused on the technical quality of health interventions, which is accomplished by assessing health needs, designing state-of-the-art programs to meet those needs, training community-based health workers and assessing the impact of interventions. Priority is also given to facilitating greater community participation in assessing health needs and designing, carrying out and evaluating health programs at the community level.

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