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HOPE works in more than 35 countries worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.

WORLD TB DAY 2015

Public-Private Partnerships Tackling TB Epidemic

Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on March 23, 2015

Labels: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan , Infectious Disease

World TB Day 2015

As Project HOPE marks World TB Day 2015 and honors the theme, "Reach the 3 Million: Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone," a look back at our history in Central Asia and our long standing commitment to address the global TB epidemic shows tremendous progress has been made.  Much of HOPE’s success in combatting TB over the last twenty years has resulted from our partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners. Although HOPE first began working on a small TB project in Kazakhstan as early as 1993, it was in 1997 when USAID provided crucial funding for us to continue and expand our TB work in Central Asia. It was the first time USAID provided funding for TB in Central Asia. The funding covered all countries in the region except Tajikistan. Subsequently, over the course of four successive grants from USAID, Project HOPE expanded its TB work and partnered with National TB Programs and other international partners such as CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce the WHO internationally recommended strategy, DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course), in all of the Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). Meanwhile, through these successive projects and with additional donor funding and partnerships, Project HOPE played an integral role in supporting national partners to train health care workers in all aspects of implementing the DOTS strategy, supporting the introduction of innovative approaches to TB control, and to adopt the DOTS strategy. 

World TB Day---DOTS Training Turkmenistan

After Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan adopted the DOTS in 1998 but it took more time for remaining countries to adopt the internationally accepted approach; Uzbekistan had fully rolled out the strategy by 2004 and Tajikistan and Turkmenistan completed the national roll-out of DOTS in 2007.

While economies recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union, until DOTS was introduced TB incidence rates continued to rise in Central Asia. As the strategy was expanded across the region, the numbers of cases diagnosed, or notified, also began to rise, and the estimated percentage of new cases that were being detected by the National TB Programs increased as well, along with the cure rates. These improvements in identifying more TB cases and treating them began to contribute to an improving situation in the region. The expansion and strengthening of DOTS in the National TB control programs coincided with a leveling off the epidemic and then a slow reduction in the size of the epidemic in all of the countries of Central Asia.

Uzbekistan Tb Education

And most recently, HOPE launched a TB program in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, funded by a $24 million grant from USAID to ensure more effective and accessible TB diagnoses and treatment, especially for vulnerable populations. The grant will also help reduce the burdens of TB and multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the region.  So, it’s with great pride on World TB Day 2015 that we celebrate the amazing success of HOPE’s efforts with USAID and other partners to improve the health of many in a region still grappling with TB.

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iHOPE Team Participates in the Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon

Posted By Ted Wendel, Project HOPE volunteer and photojournalist on March 16, 2015

Labels: , Alumni, Volunteers

Volunteer Bill Brent ran the full marathon for the iHOPE team

A cold, rainy Saturday morning did not dampen the enthusiasm of 20 runners – all members of the first-ever iHOPE team in support of Project HOPE - who faced strong winds and their own personal challenges to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon in Washington D.C. These 20 volunteers joined over 25,000 other runners in an exciting and fun filled race through the streets of our nation’s capital. The course was inspirational. At the beginning of the course, runners ran around the Lincoln Memorial and across the Memorial Bridge to the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery and then back along Rock Creek Parkway. They finish line some 26.3 miles ahead was at RFK Stadium.

Bill Brent was inspired by the history on the course, and it helped him cruise through the early parts of the marathon. Bill runs a lot but this was his first marathon. He was recruited to the iHOPE team in January and has been actively training throughout a rough winter in Dover, Pennsylvania. Standing on the starting line facing the Lincoln Memorial was an overwhelming experience for Bill. His mission in life has become aligned with the Project HOPE mission. By joining the iHOPE team, he was able to extend his chance “to advance the common good and create opportunities for a better life for all.”

Rock 'n' Roll DC marathon and 1/2 marathon 2015 was completed by 20 iHOPE team members

The Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon was the first time that Project HOPE has sought support by allowing volunteers to find friends who pledge funds if they completed the marathon. Team members came from all over the U.S. Some were seasoned runners while others elected to run the 5K portion of the marathon course. For many this was the first time as a Project HOPE volunteer. Because of their efforts, the iHOPE Team raised close to $12,000 to support Project HOPE. The members of the iHOPE Team are already planning to run in next year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon.

The message from each member of the iHOPE team is very similar to Bill’s. Each runner felt he or she was reaching out to help provide medicine and health care service to people in need around the world.

iHOPE team member Stacy Bowers with her son

The marathon ended as it began. A cold driving rain forced runners and supporters to their cars too quickly. Finish line celebrations were short but all of the team members received medals and the personal joy of completing a difficult assignment.

This is just the start for the iHOPE team. Check out the iHOPE website for upcoming races and to join our team! 

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Cyclone Pam Devastates Vanuatu

on March 14, 2015

Labels: Vanuatu , Disaster-Relief

Project HOPE is assessing the situation in Vanuatu after it was struck by a category five storm packing winds of up to 190 miles per hour.  The capital, Port Vila, took a direct hit from the storm, dumping torrential rain on the archipelago nation northeast of Australia. Emergency aid workers say many homes were destroyed and the streets were littered with uprooted trees and toppled power lines. There are also reports of casualties. Vanuatu’s President has made an emotional appeal for emergency aid, saying entire villages have been destroyed. Cyclone Pam is the strongest storm to make landfall since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013. Cyclone Pam has also triggered storm warnings in the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

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It Takes a Village: Rebuilding Health Care in Indonesia

Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on March 5, 2015

Labels: Indonesia , Women’s and Children’s Health

I am so inspired by the resilience of the Indonesian people who have worked tirelessly to rebuild their lives after the tsunami struck in 2004. My final site visit on this remarkable journey in Southeast Asia was in the district of Serang, the site of our women’s and children’s health program in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Indonesia and Give 2 Asia.  We drove out to Serang with great anticipation. Fighting the traffic in Jakarta, coming or going, was its own adventure requiring adept skill from our driver, a commitment to spending hours on the road, and great patience. However, the end result was worth it. Experiencing our programs in action is why we do what we do!

Dr. Howe Indonesia Women's and Children's Health

The district of Serang has a population of over 1,500, 000, including more than 60 sub-districts. Each sub-district has a health outpost run by a midwife and a dedicated core of community health workers. These sub-districts refer the mothers to larger health centers dispersed throughout Serang. Project HOPE has four midwives that travel throughout the district providing train-the-trainer instruction, health advocacy, community-level health promotion, and health care provider training – specifically in Basic Emergency Obstetric Neonatal Care (BEONC). We met with Dr. Sri Nurhayati, the Director of the District Health Office Serang, and she told us how pleased she is with the program. Why? Because the key health indicators are all improving. More expectant mothers are coming in early for exams and care. More mothers are being referred to the health centers for deliveries by trained mid-wives, particularly important for more complicated deliveries.

In Tunjung Teja, we observed a delightful welcoming ceremony and a community health session delivered by the local midwife and health workers.  We spoke with the mayor and found out, due to HOPE’s advocacy and community-level organization, the village came together, pooled scarce resources, and purchased a dedicated ambulance to transport expecting and referred mothers from the outpost to the health center. 

Dr. Howe Indonesia Women's and Children's Health

We then visited the Tunjung Teja Health Center, touring the brand new BEONC Care Unit, upgraded by Project HOPE with donated equipment and supplies. We met with the district physicians and nurses and learned how much the HOPE program is needed and appreciated here. Like the HealthWorks program in Subang, this effort in Serang is scalable and can be replicated in other districts. The one question I am always asked, after being told how wonderful our current program is, is: "When can HOPE do more?" There is always a desire – and a need – for more. And our team is dedicated to finding ways to do just that.

Inspired and more energized than ever, but with a certain sadness after leaving our wonderful field-based colleagues, friends, and partners behind, we headed home as champions for our work in Southeast Asia and around the world.  The 2004 tsunami hit this country hard, and the impact of the storm on people’s lives will never be forgotten. Impressively, HOPE is still there today with long-term programs reaching people that are still in need, most notably the incredible and resilient women and children of Indonesia.  We have done so much, but still have so much more to do!

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Improving the Health of Women and Children in Indonesia

Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on March 4, 2015

Labels: Indonesia , Women’s and Children’s Health

Dr. Howe Indonesia Women's and Children's Health

Flying from Cebu, through Manila, we landed in Jakarta on a warm, humid afternoon in Indonesia - a beautiful country that was devastated by a tsunami over ten years ago.  Together, our team kicked off the Indonesian leg of my visit to Southeast Asia with a productive and energizing dinner with Johnson & Johnson Indonesia’s Managing Director, Vishnu Kalra, and the NGO, Give 2 Asia’s Program Advisor for Indonesia, Anna Juliastuti. The group discussed what I like to call our "intersections of interest,"our common strategic priorities, and of course HOPE’s excellent women’s and children’s program in Serang, West Java. 

The next day, we drove into the highlands to the town of Subang, home to a large number of garment factories supporting U.S. buyers such as Target, Walmart, JC Penney, and many others.  In Subang, Project HOPE, in partnership with MSD’s Merck for Mothers, is operating a unique and creative women’s and children’s health program called HealthWorks, which is offering comprehensive health care and health education to thousands of women now working in garment factories in Indonesia. 

Dr. Howe Indonesia HealthWorks

Project HOPE is currently working with MSD and local NGO, Yayasan Kusuma Buana (YKB), at five factories in the area, over a three year period, with opportunities to expand further. The program provides train-the-trainer health education, supervises the development and management of a volunteer core team (20+ women who oversee the health education activities of the factory population – as volunteers, at lunch and after hours, as well as advocacy support and oversight of the nursing station).  After two years, the data speaks for itself.  Each factory's three major business indicators have shown significant improvement:  increase in productivity, decrease in sick leave, and improved productivity.  The health and wellbeing of the participating women workers have improved, and this is having a direct impact on the health of their children and families. We toured the PT Hansoll-Hyun factory in the morning, followed by the Daenong factory after lunch.

I was so impressed with our HealthWorks program.  Watching just over 3,000 women leave at the exact same time for lunch, with the stunning colors of their clothing as they streamed out of the buildings en masse, underscored the size of our target population -- and the communities we are helping.  Listening to our volunteer HOPE-trained core instructor team, as they provided health education to a group of women workers was so inspiring.  And, seeing new mothers utilizing the private, dedicated breastfeeding rooms as well as receiving examinations and care served to further validate the need for what HOPE is trying to achieve here.

That evening, we met with Ashish Pal, the President and Managing Director of MSD Indonesia, and  Ira Setyawati, the Communications Director for MSD.  We had a lively and memorable evening strengthening our historic ties, aligning our common goals and interests, and reliving our wonderful day at the factories.  HealthWorks “works” and it was a great opportunity to share notes and emphasize the importance of our joint efforts.  This program is scalable, replicable and one that we’ll attempt to grow together going forward.  All in all, a great experience and so symbolic of “doing well by doing good!”

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