Public Health


The leading causes of illness and death in resource poor countries are preventable and easily treatable conditions. Despite significant progress every day 19,000 children under five die, nearly half of these in the first 28 days of life, and more than 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the top 10 causes of death globally with 10.4 million new cases in 2015 alone. One in ten (663,000 million) people still lack access to a safe drinking water source and one in three (2.4 billion) lack access to basic sanitation. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty was halved; however, globally among children under 5, one in four are stunted and 52 million suffer from acute malnutrition. It is widely recognized that scaling up evidence-based interventions has the potential to avert the vast majority of these unnecessary deaths – the key challenge is ensuring these interventions reach the most vulnerable.

Our work

Mercy Corps focuses on the major public health challenges faced by the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in countries experiencing humanitarian emergencies, complex crises and those in stable development contexts. We address the main public health challenges, and support the growth, development, and health trajectory of people by implementing innovative solutions in three areas: health [maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and control of Tuberculosis (TB) and other infectious diseases]; nutrition and; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). We believe in advocating for policies that benefit the needs of the most vulnerable, equipping communities to hold decision makers and service providers accountable, strengthening local systems to sustainably improve peoples’ access to and use of quality health, nutrition and water and sanitation services and relevant products and mobilizing communities to promote and adopt evidence-based behaviors that improve their health and well-being.

Our approach

To ensure ownership and sustainability, we consistently partner with communities, service providers and government ministries and jointly design, implement and monitor programs. We prioritize capacity building of our local partner institutions, communities, and public and private sector service providers. We implement market-based interventions to improve access to health, nutrition and WaSH products. We carry out formative research to help us understand how to best influence people’s practices through Social and Behavior Change (SBC) interventions and establish multiple SBC platforms. We work with communities, local partners and governments to improve governance structures that manage health, nutrition and WASH services in the long term. We additionally underscore the importance of integrated programming to address important contributors to sub-optimal health such as food insecurity, poor governance, and harmful socio-cultural practices. Recognizing the important role gender norms play on health outcomes, we deliberately mainstream context-specific gender considerations into program activities.

Learn more about our Public Health and Nutrition Approach ▸

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