Catholic Relief Services believes that all people should be empowered to make their own decisions and solve their own problems, a belief that derives from the principle of subsidiarity as that is understood in Catholic social teaching. We also believe that each person has the right to full and integral human development.
These commitments determine the nature of CRS’ health programs around the world. We seek to help communities and individuals “own their own health.”
What does that mean in practice? A community that “owns health” is aware of its own ability to bring about sustainable health outcomes. It is committed to modeling behaviors and attitudes that promote healing, reduce vulnerabilities, and maintain wellness. And it works in an inclusive manner with existing structures and leaders to advance health outcomes.
Community Health Program Overview
CRS’ community-based health programs, carried out in partnership with local public, private, and church institutions, are designed to help people achieve a decent quality of life regardless of their health status. Because of our commitment to promote social justice, human rights, and human dignity, we seek to enable society’s most marginalized members to address their own basic health needs.
We focus on the most prevalent health conditions in vulnerable populations. Some examples:
- Malnutrition, which accounts for more than 50% of all underlying health problems in young children
- Malaria, which causes the preventable death of more than 800,000 children each year
- Maternal health
In many cases, disease and even death can be prevented by changing the simplest of behaviors—like handwashing. Through 49 active health projects and over 70 integrated projects, CRS’ health programming brings help to those in need—food, clean water, health facilities, training for healthcare providers, education in preventive behaviors, medical treatment.
Who Do We Reach?
We work in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities with poor health statistics and lack of access to quality health services. We give priority to those who are at greatest risk: women of reproductive age, infants, and very young children.