The International Center for Equal Healthcare Access (ICEHA) was founded by Dr. Marie Charles in November 2001.
The concept behind ICEHA began as an ambitious dream born out of Dr. Charles’ experience in Kigali (Rwanda) where plenty of funding and suitcases full of medication were not enough to ensure that the medications actually reached the patients. The HIV prevalence rate in Rwanda at the time was 11.2 % and HIV-infected patients were plentiful. The foremost barrier to delivering AIDS care turned out to be the fact that local caregivers were simply lacking the practical expertise on how to deliver AIDS care. Not only were healthcare professionals not trained in providing care to HIV-infected patients they also did not communicate HIV prevention messages to their patients, and might even employ unsafe medical practices that actually put patients at great risk of contracting the virus. Dr. Charles realized that giving local medical professionals the practical clinical skills to take care of their own patients was necessary to ensure sustainable healthcare delivery in developing countries. Only then could HIV prevention messages be delivered through the healthcare system; only then would the increased availability of HIV medication result in the actual increase and effective use of those medicines.
Too many organizations use western volunteer physicians to provide care directly to patients in developing countries. While using Western doctors to treat patients in these settings does provide excellent patient care, it ultimately leaves local healthcare providers without the knowledge they need to take over the patient load once the visiting doctors leave. Hence the need existed for a different type of medical volunteer organization, one that leverages the vast abundance of medical expertise available in the West to actually build the practical skills of healthcare professionals in developing countries resulting in quality HIV care, disease prevention, abandonment of unsafe medical practices, and prevention of other infectious diseases epidemics. And all of this within the existing resource limitations. Well: this new organization built on the novel concept described is ICEHA.
Ultimately, ICEHA results in sustainable access to healthcare in developing countries in a highly leveraged, high impact way. By now, all of our programs started as pilots but have scaled to national level programs and ICEHA’s model has been replicated across countries and continents in the developing world.
Company Background: Incorporated in New Jersey, ICEHA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with operations in New York and London. We are governed by a Board of Directors who provide strategic, programmatic, legal, and financial oversight. The directors are an international team of world-renowned experts specializing in HIV care, developing countries, and program management.