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Posted By: Tom Kenyon, M.D., M.P.H. on September 15, 2016

Labels: Africa , China, Dominican Republic, Europe and Eurasia, Macedonia, Namibia, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa , Global Health Expertise, Chronic Disease, Women’s and Children’s Health, Alumni, Infectious Disease, Health Systems Strengthening

medical help for young boy with hematology disease in China

In my first 12 months as HOPE’s new President and CEO, I’ve been privileged to visit colleagues in 13 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and seen for myself how our programs and professionals are doing vital work in building health capacity that is directly helping patients, doctors and nurses, and others.

In China, a nurse educator praised the volunteer HOPE nurse educator who had transformed her life by equipping her with skills and knowledge to become a more effective and dedicated educator and an example for others to follow. Now she leads a large nursing department in a Beijing hospital – passing on the skills we empowered her to develop for a new generation of Chinese nurses.

At the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and the University Children’s Hospital in Krakow, which HOPE helped to establish decades ago, I met families whose children are thriving thanks to the expertise and state-of-the-art medical technology on hand to treat a young patient’s special needs and support the family as well. 

Dr. Kenyon visits with health care workers in Sierra Leone

Post-Ebola Sierra Leone has faced enormous challenges since it suffered from the world’s largest and deadliest outbreaks of the Ebola virus, which claimed the lives of thousands.   Project HOPE donated medicines and supplies and the Ministry of Health asked us to stay on in the fight to restore the health care system.  We are helping to tackle horrific levels of maternal, newborn, and child mortality, most of which is entirely preventable. 

In Namibia, a nurse in an AIDS clinic told me how helpful the Project HOPE field workers had been in tracking down treatment defaulters, thereby preventing drug resistance and transmission to others. 

Project HOPE helps in Santo Domingo

In the Dominican Republic, I spent more than an hour in deep discussions with the Minister of Health, a fellow pediatrician, discussing issues affecting children, especially the Zika virus epidemic and the country’s very high levels of neonatal mortality.

And thanks to the commitment of our many private sector corporate partners, Project HOPE is in close partnership with the governments of China and South Africa to establish appropriate local models of care for diabetes and hypertension. One patient told me how much better he attends follow-up appointments ever since the HOPE Centre in South Africa established an appointment system – a simple step to overcome an important bottleneck.

Education about diabetes and hypertension in South Africa

And in Macedonia, I saw how the Project HOPE team has effectively integrated our support with the Ministry of Health as a true partner to bring much needed health services to thousands of refugees as they cross parts of Europe, fleeing war, poverty, and hopelessness.

In addition to disease-specific programs, I continue to be reminded how crucial it is to invest in the human capital that is needed to drive the delivery of health services and these priority programs. If you ask local health leaders, they will say organizations like Project HOPE should focus on building their local capacity. I couldn’t agree more.

HOPE is fortunate to have a diverse portfolio of programs that it can be proud of, including Health Affairs, the leading journal on health policy to help drive sound decision-making for better health outcomes in the US and around the world.  Through partnerships, we will continue to pursue innovative service models that are designed to overcome the many bottlenecks that impede access to health care.  And we will continue to pursue opportunities to build capacity of the health workforce to address local health challenges in a sustainable fashion.

next generation of volunteers

Project HOPE has a unique and strong tradition in developing the health workforce, going back to the pioneering days with the SS HOPE, the first ever peacetime hospital ship whose mission was to treat, train, and learn.  Moving forward, HOPE is determined to build on this unique legacy of trusting relationships and making a difference through service to others.  I’m excited for HOPE’S future. 

It’s a future focused on boosting our impact, focusing our efforts, partnerships, and ensuring accountability for results. 

It’s a future exemplified in the example of a single Chinese nurse who years ago had an encounter with Project HOPE, and has been changing lives ever since.

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