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HOPE works in more than 35 countires worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Posted By Dinesh Pethiyagoda, Richard T. Clark Fellow, Merck & Co. on May 23, 2014
Dinesh Pethiyagoda is an employee of Merck & Co. in Upper Gwynedd, PA in its Global Marketing Communications for diabetes franchise. As a Richard T. Clark Fellow for World Health, he and Gary Zelko, Merck’s Director and Publisher of the Merck Publishing Group spent three months in the fall of 2013 visiting Project HOPE’s program sites in Africa. The purpose of their fellowships was to develop new promotional materials for Project HOPE’s work in Africa to aid in attracting new sources of funding for our work in this region.
In South Africa, we first visited the informal settlements of Soweto on Sunday. Although I’ve seen several slums all over the world, this was the first time I had the opportunity to walk through and observe the poor living conditions. There was a strong stench of sewage as we weaved through the so called “match box houses;” dirty water was running all over. The structures were built from most people’s garbage: cardboard boxes, old mattress springs, sheet metal, cardboard signs etc. We were taken into the guide’s home, which was very depressing. It was approximately a 12X12 foot room that was shared by 8 people (2 elderly, 1 man and 5 women). There were some communal toilets located outside and shared by the entire community. When asked about safety for tourists, the guide mentioned there has not been one incident. He said it was very safe for foreigners to walk through because the community had “Ubuntu,” which roughly translates to human kindness.
The next day we visited HOPE Centre located in a poverty-stricken township called Zandspruit, outside Johannesburg. The clinic was in the Emthonjeni Community Center, which interestingly enough has been visited by Michelle Obama, her daughters and mother. There were some very nice pictures of Mrs. Obama reading a story to young children. This community center has primary school classrooms (situated in donated shipping containers), a bakery running with solar ovens, a recycling program where people were provided with clothes and food if they recycled and a vegetable garden project.
Project HOPE, in partnership with Eli Lilly and the South African government has initiated a five-year program called the HOPE Centre. Established in 2012 and already treating over 1000 patients, the HOPE Centre offers a multi-tiered approach to treating diseases including diabetes, HIV/AIDS and hypertension.
The clinic has unique features including a patient appointment system, patient satisfaction surveys, patient education in the form of medication identification, advice on diet and lifestyle changes and a peer support program. In browsing through the educational materials and watching the diabetes educators provide counseling to patients, I was very impressed. They had an especially interesting educational brochure that was in the form of a comic book.
With a shift in disease burden from infectious diseases such as HIV and TB to chronic diseases, many of the new urban poor were now encountering a “double burden” of disease. Many people were presenting at clinics and hospitals with complications from diseases that if detected earlier and managed better could have been prevented.
We observed the community outreach that Project HOPE was doing - visiting homes of those in the community, providing education and encouraging them to be tested for diabetes and hypertension at the nearby clinic. One of the especially touching moments for me was visiting the home of a patient who had gone blind due to diabetes and was now under the care of HOPE Centre personnel, who would visit to check up on him and provide for his medications. It was interesting to see how he was able to distinguish between the many medications he had just by feeling the packaging and determining which pocket or drawer he stored it in.
Posted By Sharon Redding, RN, PhD, Project HOPE volunteer nurse educator at Wuhan University HOPE School of Nursing on May 19, 2014
Sharon Redding, RN, PhD is a Certified Nurse Educator from Omaha, NE who has volunteered with Project HOPE since the 1970’s. Linda Rice, RN, MS is a nurse and nurse educator from Phoenix, AZ. Both are volunteering as nurse educators from February to July, 2014 at the Wuhan University HOPE School of Nursing in Wuhan, China.
Linda Rice and I are responsible for teaching the Health Assessment course for the second-year international nursing students. As part of that course, the students have some of their clinical activities at a nursing home in Wuhan.
Conditions at this nursing home are very bleak. Community care for the elderly is not a common practice in China. The elderly usually live with their children and are cared for by them. In cases where there are no family members, these community nursing homes are available on a limited basis.
There are no health care providers at this nursing home - only attendants who assist the elderly. They provide very limited physical care and make sure the residents are fed. The elderly who can walk live on the lower floors of the building, which has no elevators. Those who cannot walk are limited to their rooms on the upper two floors of this four-story story structure. The building is not heated, but some space heaters are available.
The rate of burns among the elderly is high in China, due to the use of space heaters. Most residents have a bed, perhaps a chair, and a small cupboard for their personal items. A year ago, after the nursing students started their clinical activities at this nursing home, they decided that they needed to do more for these residents.
They started doing exercise with the elderly residents, talking with them, doing foot care (washing feet, trimming toenails, assessing for sores/pressure areas), doing neck and shoulder massages, playing games, and doing paper-folding with the residents. They even organized a talent show, which they presented to the residents. The nursing students go to the nursing home every Sunday afternoon and wear a uniform of red baseball caps and display a banner they have had printed.
I am a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society (STTI), Gamma Pi-At Large Chapter in Omaha NE. Our chapter provides grant funding for members who want to promote service-learning activities. I applied for a grant of $350 for the Wuhan nursing home, and it was accepted. I am presenting these funds to the student group this afternoon. They plan to use the money to purchase rubber balls and rubber bands for exercise programs at the nursing home, personal care items and socks for some of the residents. The funds will also pay to have some of the residents' wheelchairs and walkers repaired and will provide afternoon refreshments at a musical program in May. I am also planning to help Wuhan University HOPE School of Nursing set up their own chapter of STTI, and this service-learning project will be one example of the type of activity that the Wuhan chapter could consider supporting in the future.
This is a good example of the influence Project HOPE has beyond providing education and direct care. Linda Rice and I have accompanied students to this clinical site and shared in clinical and service-learning activities with students who are volunteering. It's quite a special experience.
Posted By Anita Pazcoguin, RN, Project HOPE Volunteer on May 7, 2014
More than 70 Project HOPE volunteers have provided health care to more than 6,000 people and more than $16 million in medicines and supplies have been delivered since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Anita Pazcoguin, RN is a nurse and nurse educator from New Milford, New Jersey. A Filipina American herself, Ms. Pazcoguin spent two months in early 2014 volunteering with Project HOPE in Tapaz, Philippines.
I finally arrived at Roxas City from Manila and 8,860 miles away from home. I felt rejuvenated once I was on my way to Tapaz. We lunched at the “HOPE House” in Tapaz, where I met the rest of the hostess’s family and ancillary help. They were very warm and welcoming; I even got to start sharpening my Tagalog. As a Filipina American volunteer, there were some sighs of relief that I wouldn’t make them twist their tongues trying to speak English, which I found to be pretty funny.
Volunteer Tommy Volk and I went to Iloilo to check on the foam mattresses that Project HOPE had ordered for the Tapaz District Hospital’s stretchers and beds. After a bit of negotiations, we obtained free delivery for the mattresses, since they were being delivered after the promised date. Satisfied with that promise, we went onward to Iloilo City on the other end of the island to buy medical supplies that the hospital and clinic had requested.
Early the following day, we went to the Tapaz District Hospital where I got to tour the facility. I had no expectations and was not surprised at the dilapidated condition of the hospital after the typhoon. What shocked me was seeing a patient sleeping on a bed directly on the metal springs. When I asked about it, I was told that they had to use whatever bed was available when beds were scarce, and that one was one of them. Hence, the mattresses donated by Project HOPE were ordered to replace the missing and really old ones.
As we were touring the hospital, I noticed that indeed we needed those new mattresses. All of the mattresses and metal and wooden beds were in an appalling state of disrepair; rust and peeled off paint were on most of them. And the wooden beds were mostly unfinished and prone to absorbing fluids. I made a mental note then and there that I was going to explore how we could ameliorate that condition. I figured that if we had new mattresses, we should probably match them with better beds. Financially, it was not feasible for the hospital. However, with Ms. Myrna’s ingenuity and Dr. Gloria’s support, Ms. Myrna and I discussed the possibility of repainting the beds.
Tommy left to go home on my fourth day there. Serendipitously, while I was putting my own cash in the safe, I found Tommy’s donation of P3000.00 I took that as an omen, and the next morning I approached Ms. Myrna (Chief Nurse) and asked if she had beds we could do a test run on. One gallon of paint covered 2 stretchers, 1 metal bed and 2 wooden beds. We were all so excited with the transformation of those beds that we couldn’t wait for the paint to dry so we could put them back in their rooms.
The day after paint day, there were beds in the courtyard even before we got there. The excitement of Ms. Myrna and Dr. Gloria upon seeing the previous days’ work had started a momentum.
So far, the early feedback from patients, families, staff and some of the community who had learned about this project has been tremendous gratitude. They said that before, if they could help it, they did not go to the hospital - it was too depressing.
I cannot wait for all of the rooms to get a facelift. We know that the beds are old, but now, they look like someone cared. Ms. Myrna is so grateful to Project Hope. She says that this hospital has been her life, and it feels really good to make the rooms cleaner and “happier” again. Ms. Myrna has a stencil being made that will mark all the mattresses “Donated by Project HOPE.” She also wants it to say “THANK YOU!”
Posted By Linda Heitzman, Executive Vice President, Project HOPE on April 24, 2014
Even before I joined Project HOPE two months ago, I’d heard many stories about HOPE’s history in China. This week, those stories came to life for me during my visit to Shanghai. Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with our corporate partners, government officials and leaders of the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. During my tour of the SCMC, I saw evidence of the generous contributions of the corporate partners and USAID for equipment and programming. The partnership with the Medical School has measurably improved the number and quality of trained physicians. In each encounter, I witnessed the deep impact, appreciation and respect for our 30 year public and private partnerships.
I’ve also learned much about the health care challenges in China’s rapidly developing society. The Shanghai Children’s Medical Center has been instrumental in improving the lives of children, but it cannot meet all of the health care needs of children across the vast expanse of China. And as the most populated country, it is also home to the largest number of children, many of them largely underserved . . . especially in the rural areas.
Project HOPE’s China’s team is tireless in their dedication to working with private and public partners to bring innovative solutions to address the vast unmet health care needs of children, and women. On Tuesday, we launched a program to expand HPV education. In China, 369 new cases of cervical cancer are discovered every day. Cervical cancer screening has not been implemented as a nationwide common preventive method to fight cervical cancer and a significant number of women in the rural areas of China are not screened for cervical cancer. The goal of our new program is to help reduce the number of women who die each day from cervical cancer.
I’m confident that, hand-in-hand with our partners, we will continue to build on our 30 year history in China and save and improve the lives of countless women and children.
on April 7, 2014
Today is World Health Day. This year the WorldHealth Organization is calling attention to the increasing threat of vector-borne diseases. Through its campaign, “Small Bite, Big Threat,” the organization says that many vector-borne illnesses like Dengue Fever have re-emerged or spread to new parts of the world over the past 20 years. Dengue Fever, a severe, flu-like illness caused by mosquito bites, is now found in more than 100 countries and puts more than 2.5 billion people at risk.
Our Dr. Charles A. Sanders International Residency Scholarship program gives resident physicians from the state of North Carolina the opportunity to learn and practice medicine at Project HOPE program sites in the developing world. One of our 2013 Sanders Scholarship recipients, Dr. April Edwards, recently returned from the Dominican Republic, where she had spent one month practicing medicine at Project HOPE’s women’s and children’s health clinics in Santo Domingo and Monte Plata. Dr. Edwards had this to say about treating Dengue in the Dominican Republic and how the Project HOPE-affiliated clinics are helping.
“As I worked with the doctors in Monte Plata, I realized that though many things are very similar across disciplines in different countries, some things are very region dependent. The prime example of this is probably infections. Where I come from, bugs I worry about on an almost daily basis include MRSA/ORSA (methicillin/oxacillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C. Diff (Clostridium dificile). (Those two bugs largely exist as a result of widespread use of antibiotics.) As I quickly learned from my supervisors, here in the DR, among the top concerns are Dengue and Cholera. I became better versed in how to recognize them, particularly Dengue, a mosquito-borne illness that causes fevers, low blood counts and can be fatal if not recognized and treated appropriately.
After spending a good deal of time in Monte Plata, I had the opportunity to go to a general hospital in a relatively poor area called Barahona. I accompanied Dr. Manzueta, one of the pediatricians with whom I had been working in Monte Plata. I was able to go on rounds with Dr. Manzueta and the pediatric residents there. The first place we went that morning was a whole wing full of pediatric patients with Dengue Fever in various stages. As I had never previously seen anyone with Dengue, I began furiously scribbling down notes and watching closely as the other physicians examined the patients and taught at the bedside. One afternoon, I also worked with Dr. Manzueta as we did what are referred to a “consults,” which are basically miniature clinic visits in the hospital. The chief complaints generally were much the same as those at the Monte Plata clinic, only suddenly, they were much more pressed for time.
The hospital visits made me realize how special the Project HOPE clinics are. In a country where so many of the dangers to the health of children are from very preventable public health threats, it seems that strong patient advocates and education are key. This is something that all members of the Project HOPE team do exceedingly well. They are patient and take the time to educate patients and their families. I will come away from this experience feeling invigorated and having learned a lot about neglected tropical diseases like Dengue and many other health threats that will make me a better physician.”