Merlin USA

Merlin specializes in health, saving lives in times of crisis and helping to rebuild shattered health systems worldwide. We do whatever it takes and we stay for as long as it takes. Merlin works within existing health systems to realize everyone's right to accessible, appropriate, affordable health care. We are specialists in rapid medical response and rebuilding health systems, effectively taking countries from emergency to recovery.
Mar 29, 2013

Reaching the Remote

Merlin Outreach visits in Turkana
Merlin Outreach visits in Turkana

Turkana, West Kenya, is not an easy place to live or work.  Many of the communities that Merlin serves across Turkana are very, very remote.  In order to make sure these people get the health care they so desperately need, Merlin regularly operates a mobile clinic in the village of Lokicheles (a five hour drive away from the nearest hospital).

Merlin’s mobile clinics are designed to confront the particular health challenges faced by the community it is operating in. In the wake of the 2011 drought and the extreme food shortages that hit the people of Turkana, that means nutrition, as well as vaccinations to protect people against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria.

The clinic targets children under five, as their vulnerability to malnutrition and disease is particularly acute. In addition to the vaccinations, the children’s mothers are given nutrition substitutes like Plumpy Nut ® (a peanut-based paste) and a corn soya blend, which they will feed to the children until the clinic is next in the area. The children are also weighed and measured to check for immediate signs of malnutrition.

In Turkana there are countless stories of how people have been affected by the drought. One mother told Merlin staff that her eight month old baby was cured of severe acute malnutrition as a result of Merlin’s feeding and prays the program will continue. Another - who walked for six hours to attend the distribution today – said that of their original flock of 50 goats and camels, only 20 are still alive.

Clearly, the health challenges faced by the people of Turkana are immense. Mobile clinics are an absolutely crucial weapon in the fight to overcome these challenges. That is why I’m asking you to support Merlin’s “Outreach for vital health services in rural Kenya”.

Jan 30, 2013

One Year On

Zafaya Health Center, Massaguet District, Chad
Zafaya Health Center, Massaguet District, Chad

The Growing Crisis Merlin faces

In 2012, lower than anticipated rainfall, poor local harvests, high food prices and continuing conflict across the Sahel region of West Africa resulted in an escalating food crisis across Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon.   Millions of people have been left with little food to eat, as they can neither grow enough themselves, nor afford to buy food at the market.

Merlin’s Response Team conducted an assessment of the region in early 2012 to determine the needs of the population and design the most effective response possible, and identified Chad as the country most in need of nutritional and health care support.


Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world.  Currently:

- Chad is ranked 183/187 on the Health Development Index.

- Maternal mortality of 1,200 deaths per 100,000 live births.

- Average life expectancy 46 years.

- Over 3.6 million Chadians were food insecure as of May 2012.

- Only 30% of health centers are estimated to be functioning.

- Malnutrition is the fifth cause of death among children. 


Targeting the Vulnerable

Following our assessment, we launched an emergency response, establishing a new program in the Hadjer Lamis region of Chad to react immediately to the growing needs of the population.  This emergency program is aiming to increase access to free primary health care and nutritional services for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women and to improve the capacity of local authorities and organizations to respond to future disease outbreaks. 

By arriving in country early on in the crisis, Merlin could begin to alleviate the stress on a high-risk malnourished population before the arrival of the peak malnutrition season.  It gave us a crucial window of opportunity to save lives, reduce suffering and reinforce the coping mechanisms of those most affected, before that peak was reached.

Our aim is to focus on the worst affected areas and the most vulnerable groups, particularly children.  We have gone into these areas to find and treat the children who are most at risk – not just from malnutrition, but from killer diseases like malaria. We have done this by setting up health centers, training local volunteers as health workers, and providing them with high-energy foods, medicines and equipment to save lives in their own communities.


How You Can Help

Now, with the food situation worsening, it is predicted that 127,000 children aged between six months and five years old will be affected by severe acute malnutrition this year in the Sahel belt of Chad.  The tragic result will be that more children than ever will die if help does not come in time.

Hunger and suffering on this scale seems almost too much to even imagine, let alone prevent.  Yet in Merlin we know that with the right kind of action we can make a big difference.

Please help us to do what we need not just in Chad but the rest of West Africa where we are workin to save lives in the face of the region's poverty, hunger, and disease.

Merlin supported health facility Djarmaya, Chad
Merlin supported health facility Djarmaya, Chad
Dec 14, 2012

Merlin Kenya Update from the Field

Merlin's Kisii office

Merlin Kenya Updates

- 30 health facilities have been supplied with essential drugs & medical consumables mainly for emergency response and preparedness.

- 54,123 beneficiaries were treated for various illnesses in the project supported outreaches according to national guidelines.

- On-the-job training on rational use of drugs and for improving quality of health care is being provided to outreach teams.

- Additional outreach equipment has been procured to ensure quality services are provided. Among items procured and distributed to various outreach teams were: anthropometric tools (30 height boards and 30 weighing scales) for use by the outreach teams in screening and accurate referral of malnourished cases according to the IMAM guidelines, and foldable furniture (15 tables and 15 chairs) to facilitate the teams when providing services in the resource limited settings.

- 2 social mobilizers supported by 4 clinical officers and 4 nurses have been providing psychosocial support to caregivers of severely malnourished children admitted to stabilization centres (SCs).

 - All admissions to SCs, upon discharge are referred to the nearest outpatient sites in the county (OTP) site for continued care. Cases that require specialized care as a result of illnesses are referred to specialized clinics that will provide the necessary care needed. Examples of such clinics are comprehensive care clinics (CCCs) for HIV clients and TB clinics for TB clients.


Turkana Specific Activities

- Merlin facilitated the training of 35 DHMT members, 15 CHEWs and 100 CHWs from the 3 supported districts on community strategy. This led to establishment of 2 community units in Loima and Turkana South Districts. The trainings were conducted according to the MOH curriculum.

- Merlin participated in mass distribution of azithromycin, for prevention of trachoma, which is on the increase.


Kisii Specific Activities

- Contract signed with CARE/CDC for continuation of HIV/AIDS project through Sep 2013.

- During the past quarter, 10 new facilities initiated ART services in Kisii facilities, bringing decentralization to 44 of 49 Merlin-supported facilities.

- The HIV testing and counseling (HTC) project in Kisii changed its strategy from community outreach to workplaces, necessitated by need to reach tea factory workers: 637 workers at 4 factories were tested for HIV, with 11 testing positive (1.7%).

Stella Moraa Gwaro, Merlin community health worker
Stella Moraa Gwaro, Merlin community health worker
Mother & child, outreach distribution Sasak, Kenya
Mother & child, outreach distribution Sasak, Kenya