Americares Helps Increase Access to Healthcare for Vulnerable Residents Living in Rural El Salvador with Astellas Global Health Foundation Grant

El Salvador is among the most densely populated countries in Central America.1 The government provides free public healthcare, but the demand far exceeds available resources. More than 75 percent of the population is cared for by the national health system, but not all have easy access to the services, or there isn’t capacity to meet their health needs.1

The Astellas Global Health Foundation awarded Americares a $600,000 grant in 2019, which was intended to help families living in rural El Salvador by strengthening the relief and development organization’s clinical, community health and disaster preparedness efforts. Specifically, the grant helped expand the Americares Family Clinic in Santiago de María in rural eastern El Salvador, among the most impoverished communities in the region.

Through the clinic, Americares helps provide vulnerable residents with affordable, high-quality clinical services along with outreach to nearby communities to help people manage chronic diseases and climate-related risks. The clinic also provides free health services for those community members who could not otherwise afford it through its Poverty Access Fund.

International Medical Corps Helps Address Urgent Needs for COVID-19 Response in Devastated Northeast Nigeria with Grant Support from the Astellas Global Health Foundation

A Poverty Access Fund patient is being triaged in the Americares El Salvador Clinic, according to COVID-19 protocols.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached El Salvador, staff at the Americares Family Clinic was able to quickly pivot its operations and programming thanks to the Foundation’s grant to address the incredible need in the area. The clinic was the only nonprofit health center in the Eastern region that remained open without interruption while government health facilities focused on caring for COVID-19 patients, and private facilities closed. The staff quickly revamped its operations with support from additional Americares teams at headquarters and in the field. In total, 124 Americares Family Clinic staff were trained in emergency preparedness in response to COVID-19.

Gabriela Salvador, who served as senior director for Americares in Latin America and the Caribbean at the time, and is currently Americares SVP of Global Operations, said, “It was critical for us to stay open…do our best work and rise to the occasion.”

Among the many changes made, the team obtained sufficient personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control supplies; established a triage process to ensure social distancing and safety for patients and staff; and supported 10 health facilities in other parts of El Salvador that were under resourced and unprepared with the supplies needed to operate safely during the pandemic.

International Medical Corps Helps Address Urgent Needs for COVID-19 Response in Devastated Northeast Nigeria with Grant Support from the Astellas Global Health Foundation

A community health promoter delivers medicine to a beneficiary from the Zapotillo Centro community in El Salvador.

The team also found innovative ways to reach people, including reverse engineering its call center, which typically fields incoming calls from patients requesting services, into a hub for doctors, nurses, and community health workers to call patients for wellness checks, provide COVID-19 guidance, and ensure they had access to necessary medications. With many patients living in communities with only one or two cell phones, Americares community health workers took massive efforts to coordinate with local community leaders to make sure even those with the fewest resources and most pressing health issues were looked after. Clinic staff was also able to work with the Americares team in Puerto Rico for technical support so the team could begin providing mental health telehealth consultations, a service delivery model that is completely new in El Salvador.

The work is continuing. In 2021, Americares intends to continue to serve ongoing needs in response to COVID-19 while also working to serve additional people through its Poverty Access Fund and work with community leaders and institutions in efforts to prepare for future disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and other long-term impacts of climate change on health.

Learn more about the Americares Family Clinic and some of the patients who have benefited from its services.

1Americares | El Salvador: Health Snapshot. [Internet]. Americares. Accessed on 3/19/21. Available from: