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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.

Helping Babies Breathe in the Dominican Republic

Posted By Dr. Kavi Gnanasekaran and Dr. Vanee Balasubramaniam on February 6, 2015

Labels: Dominican Republic , Women’s and Children’s Health, Volunteers

Dr. Vanee Balasubramaniam, Teresa Narvaez and Dr. Kavi Gnanasekaran

As pediatric resident physicians from the University of Rochester, we had the incredible opportunity to teach three Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) courses in the Dominican Republic as Project HOPE volunteers. Approximately 20 percent of neonatal deaths in the Dominican Republic are due to birth asphyxia/trauma. Sadly, this has not changed over the past 13 years.

Upon arriving in the Dominican Republic and meeting with Project HOPE Country Director Teresa Narvaez, we were able to get in contact with the Ministry of Health in Santo Domingo to gain permission and identify areas of need for our courses. We were also able to meet our amazing Spanish interpreter, Sebastian Quevedo, a local Project HOPE volunteer who we were lucky to spend three weeks with and who was indispensable to our ability to both communicate locally and to teach courses.

Training at Encombe Municipal Hospital in Santo Domingo

We then travelled to the province of Monte Plata and met with the hospital directors at Monte Plata Provincial Hospital and Bayaguana Municipal Hospital. We were pleased to learn that every delivery in both hospitals had a trained perinatologist or general pediatrician in attendance. However nursing and other staff were not trained and could benefit most from Helping Babies Breathe. We taught our first course in Bayaguana, which was attended by 15 participants. We then taught courses in Monte Plata and in Encombe Municipal Hospital in Santo Domingo.

We had a truly great experience learning about how to implement an international project, learning how medicine is practiced in the Dominican Republic, and getting the chance to teach HBB courses. In the future there are plenty of ways for volunteers who are interested to get involved. Helping Babies Breathe is a great evidence-based program that is known to work and be sustainable if taught and utilized, and future volunteers could become master trainers and teach courses around the globe. Anyone with a strong idea, passion and perseverance can help make an impact as a Project HOPE volunteer.


Haiti’s Disabled Make Strides for a Better Life

Remembering the 5th Anniversary of Earthquake

Posted By Dr. Lucien Armand, Country Director Haiti on January 9, 2015

Labels: Haiti , Disaster-Relief, Humanitarian Aid, Health Care Education, Health Systems Strengthening

Haiti 5 years after earthquake

I met Ronel, a 24-year-old truck driver in Haiti at what was probably the lowest point in his life.He had been the victim of a shooting accident which left him with multiple open fractures of his left leg.He had several surgeries and hospital stays and was left with a severe and painful disability requiring the use of a wheel chair.He could not even stand to use crutches because of the pain. His family was very worried that his depression would eventually result in a suicide. It is at this crucial point in his treatment that Project HOPE got involved in his care through our Rehabilitation and Reintegration program.I’m thrilled to say that Ronel was one of many who benefitted from the program - an impressive collaboration between local Haitian and United States-based health organizations to improve medical services for people living with disabilities caused by the earthquake in 2010 and other tragedies. Ronel made a made a full recovery and is driving his truck again and making a living.

  • To date, the Rehabilitation and Reintegration program has helped 5,229 people in Haiti.
Haiti 5 years after earthquake

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the program provides a full range of medical services for disabled persons.The program was implemented three years ago by Project HOPE in partnership with the Société Haitienne d'Aide aux Aveugles (SHAA), Federation Haitienne des Associations et Institutions des Personnes Handicapées D’Haiti (FHAIPH) and Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) from Richland, Washington. Newly renovated medical centers provide safe and effective surgical interventions, physical therapy, counseling and prosthetic and orthotic devices and mobility aids.  Specialized training for health professionals at the medical centers have also improved the level of patient care. 

The program has also made great efforts within the community to reduce stigma and discrimination against the disabled.  We took our message to the streets of Haiti to show people that the disabled have goals like everyone else – whether it be finding a job or just playing sports. For many disabled Haitians involved in the program, it has helped them gain greater independence so they can contribute more to their communities, seek employment and strive for a better life – and to me, that’s success.


Diabetes Assessment in Dubai

Posted By: Stefan Lawson on December 23, 2014

Labels: Southeast Asia and the Middle East , Chronic Disease

Stefan Lawson, Acting Regional Director, the Americas and Global Lead - NCDs for Project HOPE

Dubai is one of the most fascinating places I have ever travelled to, and its transformation over the past half century is mind-boggling.  Dubai is the most populous city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country located in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf.  Just 50 years ago, the people of the UAE were living in tents in the desert. Now, many live in skyscrapers and villas of many different shapes and sizes. Nothing seems impossible here – man-made islands, indoor skiing, the largest shopping mall in the world, the tallest skyscraper, exclusive hotels and fast cars – it’s all here thanks to a booming energy industry that has changed the landscape.

There are approximately nine million people living in the UAE. Ten percent are Emiratis, and 90 percent are expatriates coming here from around the globe for employment. The majority of the workers are Indian men or Asian women working in the service and construction industries.

However, with affluence often comes changes in lifestyle. Fast food restaurants are everywhere. Portion sizes in restaurants are larger than in the U.S., which is known for its large portions of food. High stress work environments and a lack of exercise have led to growing rates of obesity in children and adults here, resulting in a 20 percent prevalence of diabetes – among the highest in the world.  I came to the UAE to carry out an assessment of the health care sector on behalf of a global pharmaceutical partner keen to identify gaps around diabetes care.

Diabetes and metabolic syndrome self-management is probably one of the biggest challenges people face here. Not dissimilar to many developed and developing countries, the environment plays a significant part in a person’s health.  I have seen first-hand how, over time, through building trust with patients and providing education and empowerment, we can help them make small lifestyle changes that can have a major impact on patients’ health and well-being.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and a lot of hard work. This is the message I have been sharing with representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and representatives from the private health care sector.  I have been learning about the barriers to diabetes care in the UAE ranging from resistance to healthy lifestyle changes and stressful work environments to the abundance of convenience food and a lack of knowledge about correct portion sizes.

At Project HOPE, we affect change one person at a time. HOPE has legacy of success fighting chronic diseases like diabetes in China, India, South Africa, Mexico, Honduras and beyond. We have helped hundreds of thousands of people make significant lifestyle changes that resulted in healthier and more productive lives, and it’s my belief that we can help the many individuals in the UAE struggling with diabetes and metabolic syndrome soon as well.


Saving Lives at Birth in Rural Indonesia

Posted By: Jon Brack on December 22, 2014

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

The Project HOPE delegation was greeted graciously at the mayor of Serang's home

Jon Brack, a volunteer photojournalist from Washington D.C., spent two weeks traveling with our Board of Directors delegation to the Philippines and Indonesia starting in late October 2014.  Project HOPE established a country office in Indonesia in 2005 coinciding with our disaster response efforts following the Indian Ocean tsunami and continues to operate health programs in the country today.

A visit to the city of Serang, which is west of Jakarta, marked the last stop of the Project HOPE Board of Director's delegation trip to Indonesia. HOPE has four locations in the region where they're implementing a Saving Lives at Birth project. Before any site visits were made, though, we were treated to a formal dinner at the mayor of Serang's palatial residence. The evening featured a dance performance, the presentation of gifts and lots of delicious local foods. The mayor was very appreciative of HOPE's efforts in the region and invited everyone important in town to be part of the evening's festivities.

Visiting the Saving Lives at Birth program at the Puskesmes Tunjung Teja Heath Center near Serang Indonesia

Saving Lives at Birth is designed to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity by strengthening local health provider capacity and skills. The four sites around Serang were chosen because of their high infant and maternal mortality rates. In these areas, HOPE has carried out trainings and workshops for midwives and health center staff on Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC). Three of the health centers are now accredited by the Indonesian Ministry of Health as BEmONC facilities and can now handle emergencies of that kind in-house without needing to refer them to a hospital. Health care providers with this training have already attended more than 1,000 births at these health centers.

The program has also trained midwives in antenatal care, normal delivery services and postnatal care, services that have already benefitted more than 3,500 women. In addition, more than 500 community health volunteers have been trained in the basics of Saving Lives at Birth. These are huge successes in those four communities for a program only one and a half years old, and, because of that reputation, other health care facilities around Serang are eager to join the program.

Midwives trained through Project HOPE's Saving Lives at Birth program near Serang, Indonesia

The HOPE delegation visited the Puskesmes Tunjung Teja Heath Center in a rural area about an hour outside of Serang. Our bus was greeted by midwives and community health volunteers singing a song of welcome before we were ushered inside to see their newly completed facility. Their thanks to Project HOPE brought tears to the health center director's eyes because of their ability to now better care for all members of their local community. We then walked a few doors down to their birthing center, which has lots of new equipment recently donated by HOPE already going to good use. Posters on the walls presented good techniques to avoid common problems and promote good habits, while midwives eagerly answered questions about all the knowledge they had gained through their Saving Lives at Birth training.

Dr. Joyce Johnson, leader of the delegation, gets her blood pressure checked at a rural health clinic trained by Project HOPE near Serang, Indonesia

We then drove several minutes down the road to a rural health clinic bursting at the seams with happy community members and health service volunteers. They shared examples of their childhood training classes and health monitoring programs. Dr. Joyce even had her blood pressure checked to the delight of dozens of onlookers. Pregnant women and recent new mothers shared stories about the better care they have received thanks to Project HOPE's programs. It was a very happy place.

Our return to Jakarta marked the end of this year's Board of Director's delegation trip to the Philippines and Indonesia.  It was an invigorating opportunity to see some of the great projects that Project HOPE has happening in this part of the world.


HealthWorks Program Helps Women in Indonesia

Posted By: Jon Brack on December 21, 2014

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

HealthWorks beneficiaries at the Daenong factory in Subang City, Indonesia

Jon Brack, a volunteer photojournalist from Washington D.C., spent two weeks traveling with our Board of Directors delegation to the Philippines and Indonesia starting in late October 2014.  Project HOPE established a country office in Indonesia in 2005 coinciding with our disaster response efforts following the Indian Ocean tsunami and continues to operate health programs in the country today.

Subang City sits amongst endless rows of rubber tree orchards and vast rice paddies about a three hour drive east of Jakarta, Indonesia. Over the past couple of decades, some of those paddies have been transformed into huge buildings, garment factories making clothing for American, Japanese and Korean markets. The Project HOPE Board of Directors delegation was able to visit two of these factories to witness firsthand the exciting new HealthWorks program that HOPE is conducting in Subang.

Inside the health clinic at the Daenong factory, Subang City, Indonesia

HealthWorks is a collaboration of Project HOPE and Indonesian Health Care Clinics designed to bring health education and services to the women working in these factories. They are often in a low socio-economic group with little access to health care services, particularly concerning maternal and reproductive health. HealthWorks is designed to target this underserved population in their workplace by increasing the capacity of clinics that already exist in the factories and providing educational programs on topics such as the importance of breastfeeding and family planning.

The delegation visited the Daenong factory first, a sprawling complex employing over 3,000 workers making clothing on 48 production lines, 88% of whom are women. They now have a private location to pump and store breast milk during work hours inside of a clinic located directly off of the production floor. During lunchtime educational programs organized by a team of Factory Health Volunteers disseminate health information and act as role models for healthy behaviors.

Factory health volunteers giving an energetic hand washing demonstration at the Hansoll factory, Subang City, Indonesia

At the slightly smaller Hansoll factory, the delegation witnessed even more of what HealthWorks has to offer, highlighted by a dance performance on hand washing techniques given by a team of energetic and excited Factory Health Volunteers. It was also clearly apparent at both locations that management was fully supportive of the program, knowing that happy and healthy employees are better and more consistent workers. Because of this support, HealthWorks expanded by one additional factory in August and will hopefully add two more by the end of the year, reaching 14,867 female workers to the beneficial programs.

A highlight of the day was also a ceremony for the delegation at the mayor's office in Subang, complete with a beautiful traditional dance performance and the exchanging of gifts. The delegation with their Indonesian Health Care Clinics partners then went inside and presented the Health Works program to a packed room of public employees excited to learn more. It was great to see the local government’s support for the new program.


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