Balancing Act: How Increasing Security Issues Impact the Ability to Deliver Life-Saving Programs in Developing Nations

At a Glance: 

The rising threat of religious and political extremism, trafficking, health crises and other challenges are impacting the ability of HKI and other international development groups to provide life-saving health programs in West Africa and other global hot spots. On Tuesday, November 10, HKI hosted a live briefing call on these issues with Douglas SteinbergHKI Regional Director for West Africa, and Mustapha Sonnie,  Head of Programs, HKI-Sierra Leone. 

  • Major upheavals like coups d’etat can force us to stop our work entirely, leaving communities without access to vital health services like distribution of medicines, surgeries and acute malnutrition programs.

  • HKI prefers not to use armed escorts in our program delivery as it could put our staff at risk. We also believe that it is better to gain acceptance from the communities in which we work than to protect ourselves through high walls, barbed wire fences and arms. 

  • While HKI has evacuated staff from countries during crisis situations, in recent years it has never closed offices completely. During the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, we did evacuate some expatriate and national staff members, but ultimately chose to stand with the people of Sierra Leone during this time of crisis. After assessing where we could be most useful, we found a niche for HKI that capitalized our strengths in community awareness, data management and logistics, but also explicitly avoided the high risk interventions, such as treatment of people with Ebola or burials, which is not within our area of expertise.

  • Much of our success in delivering health programs in challenging environments is due to the care we take in communicating at multiple levels, as well as our collaboration with partners from the ministry of health and through volunteers from the communities served.


Stories of Impact

Learn more about the commitment and dedication of HKI staff in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic.

Douglas Steinberg shares about HKI's ongoing efforts in conflict-ridden Mali and the real impact we are having on communities. 

Learn more about HKI's response following the devistating earthquakes in Nepal in Spring 2015.