Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on August 19, 2014


From the high seas of Southeast Asia, to the crowded cities of South Africa and beyond, medical humanitarians can be found throughout Project HOPE making invaluable contributions to improving health care in today's world. As I travel to our programs on five continents, I have been honored to interact with HOPE’s humanitarians who work as medical volunteers addressing critical health challenges and so on this day, World Humanitarian Day, we are delighted to honor these colleagues.

Our volunteers, which include thousands of nurses, doctors, physical therapists, dentists and other health professionals from across the United States, devote hundreds of hours on each mission teaching crucial skills to local health professionals. Among HOPE’s humanitarians is Dr. Alan Jamison, a Tennessee pediatrician and HOPE’s volunteer of the year for 2013. Dr. Jamison has clocked countless hours as a HOPE volunteer and always stays for the duration of each mission, usually three months, whether it be for HOPE or another medical NGO. His commitment to medical humanitarian work was tested recently as he found himself in the midst of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He was working at a Liberian hospital, the same facility where American doctor Kent Brantly contracted the disease. Dr. Jamison continued working in the area until the NGO that sent him there decided it was not safe for him to stay. Dr. Jamison is now in a self-imposed quarantine at his home in Knoxville, and insists that he is concerned not for himself, but for the people and health providers he left behind in a swath of West Africa hit by the epidemic.

When disaster strikes a vulnerable community, HOPE’s humanitarians are there showing exceptional medical skill, patience and the heart to make a child smile after his or her home is destroyed by a typhoon and when his local community lacks the medical expertise to treat him. Our excellent collaborations with the U.S. Navy and Air Force and other partners have reached over 827,000 patients since 2005. Since then, HOPE’s humanitarians performed over 10,800 surgeries and provided 1,916,000 medical services. Health education is crucial to the sustainability of HOPE’s medical outreach, and I’m proud of the fact that we have had over 241,000 opportunities with the Navy and Air Force to teach better health to local health professionals and the communities they serve. HOPE volunteer James Calderwood, a nurse from Pennsylvania, participated in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Partnership 2014 and was stationed in Tacloban, the Philippines, nine months after the country was struck by a deadly typhoon. James worked as a clinical care nurse assisting U.S. military physicians and went the extra mile to help in many ways. For example, he borrowed a pair of working boots, put on a hard hat and spent mornings moving buckets of concrete and unloading medical supplies from the ship. 

HOPE’s history of humanitarianism began 56 years ago with our mission of improving health care around the world. The SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, completed 12 voyages over 13 years, bringing medical expertise and a strong humanitarian spirit that touched the hearts of thousands of people lining the shores from Brazil to Indonesia. They hoped to receive medical care that was unavailable to them in their own countries, and HOPE’s humanitarians were there. This spirit has continued through our land-based medical training and health education programs. We have worked in more than 120 countries, improving global health through community education, training of medical providers, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance -- and we couldn’t do this work without HOPE’s humanitarians. 

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