More than 100 grants and 16 years later, I-CATCH at work in 42 countries 

In the last 16 years, the AAP International Community Access to Child Health (I-CATCH) program has funded 100 grants in 42 countries.

ICATCH Grant Success Stories

ICATCH thrives because of the skill, dedication, and vision of its grantees, selected carefully by our team of volunteer physicians and supported with technical advice as well as funds. Here are stories of three recently completed grant projects.

Assistive Devices for Children With Physical Disabilities in Zambia

In 2018, a team led by Sister Clara Mulenga and Sister Rabecca Mwansa, both of whom are Catholic nuns as well as healthcare professionals, applied to ICATCH with a project idea centered at the John Paul II Orthopedic Mission Hospital in urban Lusaka, Zambia. They had identified that the prevalence of disability was 14.5%, and of this population, roughly 15% were able to access assistive devices. In addition, a lack of educational facilities means children with disabilities are often unable to attend school. In part as a result of inadequate access to care and education, children with disabilities were kept home by parents fearing public stigma. The project's main objective was therefore clear: to help children with disabilities who required orthopedic intervention receive comprehensive care, orthopedic interventions, accommodation, physiotherapy, and education, plus assistive devices.

The team worked in phases: first identifying the population needing help, then providing transportation from different regions in Zambia to their hospital in Lusaka, giving shelter to families, and training caregivers in the physiotherapy strategies to apply at home after surgical interventions. They also implemented a program to provide these patients with the assistance devices they required: walkers, prosthetic limbs, and wheelchairs, among others.

The first yearly goal of providing support to at least 150 children was easily surpassed, and the beginning of the second year looked promising. Unexpectedly, the global impact of COVID-19 affected project plans. Nevertheless, Sisters Clara and Rabecca actively encouraged volunteers to help, and with their assistance, they expanded to a broader area of Zambia. Through their tenacious approach, they identified even more new patients, who received the comprehensive care the sisters intended by the time the grant ended in 2021.

Overall, the project is a reminder of how passionate work has the potential to create a long-lasting impact in the lives of children.

Growing Health: A Grant Project That Grew Well

Rwandan government hospitals are unable to provide meals for hospitalized patients. Many inpatients cannot afford food in addition to medicine and hospital expenses, and many thus experience long periods of food insecurity during hospitalization. This not only impairs their ability to recover and prolongs hospitalization but also can have negative physical and developmental impacts that ripple out through their lifetimes.

Dr. Emily Esmaili, a general pediatrician and global health fellow at Duke University, used funding from ICATCH to bring together a team in Huye, Rwanda, to start Growing Health, Inc., also known as Kuzamura Ubuzima. The initiative transformed unused land near Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Butare in Huye into a productive garden that now provides produce for meals served to hospitalized patients.

Under the guidance of Ms. Laurette Mushimiyimana, the Growing Health president and program coordinator in Huye, the team expanded to include 23 farmworkers, 3 cooks, an agronomist, 5 managers, coordinators, and educators.

In 2019, they harvested 19,051 kg of produce (beans, sweet potatoes, kale, sorghum, bananas, avocados, passion fruit and more). An irrigation system was installed to increase productivity in 2020.

In addition, they started an outreach program in 3 nearby villages, aiming to serve 75 families that were former beneficiaries of the program. They visited these villages periodically, delivering fuel-efficient stoves and follow-up trainings on nutrition, perma-gardening, and preventive health. As their grant period concluded, they hoped to continue to expand, ultimately providing healthy, sustainable food to all patients in need at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare.

Growing Health indeed grew well!

Pediatric Preventive Health Radio for Indigenous Communities in Bolivia

Using radio to share pediatric health prevention messages with indigenous communities in Bolivia In 2015, two cousins, Maya Masterson, MS, and Erin Masterson, PhD, MPH, spent several months in the Bolivian Amazon collaborating with Dr. Tomas Huanca, PhD, Esther Conde, and their local team from the Centro Boliviano de Investigacion y Desarrollo Socio Integral (CBIDSI; the Bolivian Center for Investigation and Comprehensive Partner Development) to collect data for a research study focused on adolescent health. During visits in dugout canoes to 15 remote Tsimane’ villages, the team presented a brief health educational workshop to these indigenous communities, sharing the message in the native Tsimane’ language through the team translators and using visuals drawn on large poster boards. Afterward, the community members, leaders, teachers, and the tribe’s governing body, the Gran Consejo Tsimane’, enthusiastically requested continuation and expansion of these health messages.

With the support of ICATCH funding, this team developed, translated, recorded, and broadcast four educational health messages between 2016 and 2019. Their chosen themes covered oral health, sanitation and hygiene, infectious illness, water care, and traditional and market foods. They recorded radio programs at a local station and studio. The recording was taken to the Tsimane’ radio program to be broadcast throughout the Tsimane’ territory five times per week. They targeted peak listening times, during the weekend, for airings. The team also hand-drew large poster books that CBIDSI uses as visuals for sharing these messages when their team was in the communities with visiting researchers. By the end of the grant, the team began working on producing DVDs to distribute to leaders and teachers in rural communities with electricity, for further health education.

Sustaining ICATCH’s Success

ICATCH will award its 100th grant in 2023. As we look forward to this momentous achievement, we are grateful for the volunteers, donors, and amazing grantees who helped us get here. To find out more about our grants, see our grant information page. If you’d like to help ICATCH grow, please donate.



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American Academy of Pediatrics