"CLAN" is an acronym for Caring & Living As Neighbours.
CLAN is an Australian-based, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO), approved by AusAID for Overseas Aid Gift Deductibility Status (OAGDS) and the Australian Taxation Office for Tax Deductibility Status. CLAN is dedicated to the dream that all children living with chronic health conditions in resource-poor countries of the world will enjoy a quality of life on par with that of their neighbours' children in wealthier countries.
Children Should Have Rights Everywhere
Despite the fact that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that all children with special health requirements have a right to the care needed to enable them to live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible, the sad reality is that in resource-poor countries any child with any chronic health condition (that is, any health condition that lasts more than 3 months) is immediately susceptible to entirely preventable disability and death. CLAN believes these children have a right to health and life, and that more international attention should be given to this issue.
How did CLAN start?
Founded in 2004, CLAN's work began by helping children living with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) in Vietnam in response to stories in Australian and American CAH Support Group newsletters that outlined the shocking global inequity that existed for children with CAH. Whilst a child in Australia with CAH could expect a high quality of life, children in Vietnam were dying and suffering unspeakable disability.
Early successes helping children living with CAH in Vietnam led to requests for assistance from health professionals and families to help children with CAH in the Philippines (2005), Indonesia (2006) and later Pakistan (2007). In 2007 CLAN was also invited to help children with Diabetes in Vietnam, followed by Autism (2008), Nephrotic Syndrome (2010), Osteogenesis Imperfecta (2011) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (2011) in Vietnam. CLAN's Strategic Framework for Action (founded on a rights-based approach with a focus on 5 key Pillars) has been instrumental to our work.
So what does CLAN do?
CLAN's efforts are based on a rights-based, community development model that provides a strategic framework for action (the 5 pillars) to help children who are living with chronic health conditions in resource-poor countries. The five pillars focus action on:
1. Affordable access to medication & medical equipment
2. Education (of individuals, families, communities, health professionals, policy makers and the international community), Research & Advocacy
3. Optimisation of medical management (including primary, secondary and tertiary prevention prevention, with a bio-psycho-social focus)
4. Encouragement of family support networks
5. Reducing financial burdens on families that result in poverty, helping people to become financially independent so that they can provide the necessary health care for their children longer-term.
CLAN is committed to the principles of community development and comprehensive primary health care. We identify groups of children (and their families) who are living with the same chronic, long-term health conditions as members of a distinct, non-geographically based community. Identification of, and consultation and collaboration with these communities enables CLAN and other partners to work together with individuals and families living day-to-day with chronic health conditions in resource-poor settings, to collectively determine the most appropriate actions for change.
Everyone has a role to play!
CLAN is committed to long-term, sustainable solutions, and believes the only way to achieve this is through collaborative, multi-sectoral efforts to effect change for the children. Partnerships with like-minded organisations, compassionate business leaders and philanthropists are essential. CLAN also recognises the necessity of healthy public policy and involvement of ministries of health and other government departments in determining the most appropriate ways to help children and their families, so that essential health needs and the broader social determinants of health are met. It is beyond the scole of health alone to solve the problems facing children living with chronic health conditions in resource-poor settings.
But it is not just professionals and officials who can make a difference - by uniting people living with the same chronic health conditions around the world as one large "human family" huge economies of scale can be achieved. Families in rich and poor nations can come together, and work in partnership to effect change. Experiences, resources and a determined vision for a better life for the children can all be shared to empower great change.
Working together, it is possible to effect change on a global scale for children with chronic health conditions. And it is vital that we all strive for this, because the children and families themselves are virtually powerless to effect change without the help of their neighbours, friends and concerned global citizens.
If those who are more fortunate can reach out and work in partnership with those who suffer tremendously, we will all truly be living more as neighbours than strangers.