Our Work

The Need

While there have been substantial healthcare improvements in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade, there are still many people without access to healthcare.

in africa

Preventable Death in Children

One in ten African children will not survive to their fifth birthday.

lowest life expectancy

A person born in sub-Saharan Africa has a life expectancy 20 years less than a person born in United States.

Increase in non-communicable diseases

Infectious diseases are now coupled with an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

in tanzania

lack of healthcare workers

There are fewer than three healthcare workers per 10,000 people. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum ratio of 20 per 10,000 people.

High risk of childbirth complications

A Tanzanian woman is 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than an American woman.

Limited basic healthcare services

Access to the most basic healthcare services is limited, particularly for the 70% of Tanzanians who live in rural areas. Most will go their entire life without seeing a doctor.

Premature mortality from treatable diseases

Preventable and treatable diseases, such as diarrheal and common respiratory infections, account for the majority of deaths in Tanzania.

Multiple factors prevent patients from receiving quality healthcare:

  • Physicians and other healthcare workers are in short supply
  • Essential medicines are frequently unavailable
  • Medical equipment is either non-existent or broken
  • Health facilities are frequently in disrepair and inefficiently managed

Health Systems Approach

We take a comprehensive approach to improving the Tanzanian health system. Three key elements guide our work:

1 We take a holistic health systems outlook

We view a health system as an interconnected web of elements. We recognize that each of these elements must be functional to enable effective delivery of care. In alignment with the World Health Organization’s Health System Framework, we address the key elements of the health system to deliver integrated solutions and improve the entire system.

2 We design locally-informed, high-impact programs within resource limited settings

Our work is based on robust data analyses and informed by years of on-the-ground experience. We align with the Tanzanian government’s strategies and our local partners’ priorities. Our programs are implemented after coordinating with technical experts and securing private and public sector funding.

3 We are committed to long-term sustainability

We believe that international development should not foster dependency, but rather empower local communities to create sustainable change. As such, we work with Tanzania’s existing institutions, making substantial investments in building their capacity to train more healthcare workers and provide a higher quality of care. Once our programs are in place, we reduce and ultimately phase out our support, transitioning programs to local management and guaranteeing their long-term sustainability under Tanzanian ownership.

Strategy Overview

Touch Foundation strengthens local health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. We apply a three-phase strategy for scaling solutions to the most pressing global health challenges.

Much of our work to date has focused on designing and implementing programs in the Lake Zone of Tanzania and demonstrating impact.  Successful solutions are then scaled up to a regional/national level​. Ultimately, we aim for our solutions to be adapted and replicated in other countries facing similar challenges to achieve broad, transformative impact.

Learn more about our strategy

Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are essential to healthcare delivery, and there is a direct link between a country’s number of healthcare workers and a country’s health outcomes.

Without healthcare workers to accurately diagnose patients and administer treatment, the impact of other interventions, such as increasing drug supplies or building health facilities, is limited. While international volunteers provide crucial support, training a country’s local healthcare workforce ensures a sustainable pipeline of healthcare workers into the future.

Our work aims to:

  • Train new skilled healthcare workers
  • Improve skills of existing healthcare workers
  • Influence national policy to effectively place and retain healthcare workers in the health system
Learn More about healthcare workers

Treat & Train Network

Touch’s Treat & Train Network of hospitals and educational institutions began with external clinical rotations and has evolved into a key component of our approach.

Treat & Train began as an initiative to improve medical education by connecting hospitals so medical students could gain valuable experience in smaller external rotations while also helping to provide better care to patients in under-resourced health facilities.

After external rotations proved a successful model for improving education, we realized the value in creating connectivity among health institutions that previously operated singularly. We have continued to develop this integrated Treat & Train Network of healthcare and educational institutions and this ‘network’ concept shapes all of our programming. By strengthening hospitals within the Treat & Train Network, scarce resources are shared and maximized, and we are able to achieve systems-level improvements.

Learn More about our Treat & Train Network

Health Priorities

We choose health priorities because of their disproportionate effect on Tanzanian people, and we make sure that our interventions also strengthen the health system.

Poor health is a product of a weak health system, so in addressing specific health priorities, we also want to strengthen the system to ensure long-term progress. This involves understanding the multiple factors associated with prevention and patient behavior, identifying gaps in healthcare delivery, and developing solutions that cut across the boundaries of a singular disease treatment. For each targeted health priority, our goal is to leave behind a stronger health system.

Learn More about health priorities

Maternal & Newborn Health

Touch Foundation saves the lives of mothers and newborns by improving the health system and providing emergency transportation to ensure they have access to quality care during and after pregnancy.

With nearly half of all Tanzanian women giving birth at home without the care of a skilled health worker, deaths of mothers and newborns due to birth complications is unnecessarily high. Complex and systemic issues like weak health systems and delays in accessing care lead to the high rates of maternal and newborn mortality. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals related to maternal and newborn health is possible if governments, donors, and civil society collaborate to expand proven solutions.

Learn more about maternal health

Non-Communicable Diseases

We are addressing non-communicable diseases with an approach that strengthens the entire health system.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person.  They are generally slow to progress.  They include cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, and they disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, where nearly three quarters of NCD deaths—28 million–occur.  A person in Tanzania is nearly three times more likely to die of diabetes or heart disease than in the United States. These are often premature deaths and preventable diseases.  Tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of NCDs.

Learn more about NCDs

Knowledge Sharing

As Touch implements our programs in Tanzania, we magnify our global reach by documenting results and sharing our knowledge with local and international partners. In addition to publishing reports, our team presents our work at international conferences.

Learn more about our knowledge sharing

Implementing Partners

Touch Foundation’s work is built on robust and sustainable partnerships

We ensure the longevity of our impact by partnering closely with institutions that have a vested long-term interest in the country, including domestic and international governments, local healthcare institutions (public, private, and faith-based), international non-profit organizations, U.S.-based hospitals and private companies conducting business in Tanzania.

Read about our funding partners.

Learn More about our implementing partners