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.
Project HOPE medical volunteers have joined Pacific Partnership 2015 to provide medical care and training to local health care professionals in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam over the course of three rotations.
Kim Kancir is a critical care nurse, originally from Fairfield, CT. She first heard about Project HOPE from her professors at the University of New Hampshire, who have lots of experience in humanitarian work abroad and highly recommended Project HOPE. Kim worked as a nurse for a couple of years before applying for Pacific Partnership 2015. She is taking leave from her current job working as an ICU nurse in Montana. Kim is thrilled with the opportunity to exchange her knowledge, skills and expertise with not only the host nations we're visiting but with our military and partner nations as well.
Alexa Keonig is an ICU nurse from Washington D.C. and is a first-time Project HOPE volunteer. In addition to her desire to get involved in a humanitarian mission, Alexa also plans to join the Army as a nurse anesthetist. Alexa jumped at the chance to volunteer with Project HOPE on Pacific Partnership 2015. She is excited for this opportunity to get involved and gain experience collaborating with partner nations as well as learning how the US military functions in a medical capacity. She is most looking forward to the community health engagements (CHEs), subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) and making a difference in our host nations' health care systems. Alexa is a firm advocate not just for medical aid but for health care education as well. Alexa says, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Rose Wilson is a pediatric nurse from Melbourne, Australia. She is participating in her third consecutive Pacific Partnership mission. Rose first volunteered with Project HOPE for Pacific Partnership 2013 as a pediatric nurse. She enjoyed her experience so much that she joined the team for Pacific Partnership 2014, this time working as the operations coordinator for the HOPE team. This year Rose is functioning as the operations and logistics officer for Project HOPE and is excited to gain a different perspective on the mission. Rose is working closely with the Civil Military Coordination Center on board. She is also collaborating with U.S. Army and Australian officers to coordinate and manage all of the volunteers on the USNS Mercy to maximize efficiency and effectiveness on this mission. She is most looking forward to our visit to Papua New Guinea, because she is excited to explore and have a positive impact on a part of the world she has not yet seen.
Caitlin Mateer is a pediatric nurse from Melbourne, Australia and a first-time Project HOPE volunteer. She currently works at the Royal Children's Hospital in the adolescent and rehabilitation ward, working with patients in post-surgery physical rehabilitation, long ICU stays and after car accidents. Caitlin has always been interested in participating in a humanitarian mission and jumped at the chance to join Project HOPE on Pacific Partnership when her coworker, Rose Wilson, told her about her previous experiences with Project HOPE and Pacific Partnership missions. Caitlin grew up in a military family -- her father and brother were in the Royal Australian Navy -- so she is familiar with the practices of living with military on a ship. Caitlin has enjoyed comparing Australian customs with those of Americans, and she is happy to delight coworkers with her accent and "foreign" words during her presentations. Caitlin is most looking forward to getting out into the community to provide basic health care, particularly pediatric health care that might be taken for granted in more developed nations. She is looking forward to making a difference supporting surgeries such as those for cleft palates, which will significantly improve the lives of children in our host nations.
Dan Dlugose is a nurse from Colorado and a third-time Project HOPE volunteer. He is joining the Project HOPE team for the first rotation of Pacific Partnership 2015 and will be working on shore in our host nations as a health educator. Dan will be working at health fairs, teaching basic life support and techniques. Dan first became involved with Project HOPE on Pacific Partnership 2013, when he decided to pursue his dream to participate in humanitarian missions. He spent the last years of his career working in high-tech applications like computer-assisted neurosurgery and is eager to share his experience with the people of Fiji. Dan was initially exposed to the developing world as a navy corpsman on a hospital ship in Vietnam and other places in the Western Pacific, and he has always wanted to return to help in any way he could. Dan chose to join Project HOPE because it offers many opportunities to get involved. Dan is most looking forward to meeting some Fijians and doing some basic health care education in Fiji.
Molly Broderick is a first-time Project HOPE volunteer from Boston. She is excited to be a part of the Pacific Partnership 2015 mission. Molly will be documenting, via photos and written accounts, the work of the HOPE volunteer nurses and doctors and sending updates throughout the mission in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.
Making Maternal Health a Shared Responsibility in Factories and Farming Villages in Indonesia
During my week visiting HOPE's Women's and Children's health programs in Indonesia, I have written about new efforts in both factories and villages for healthy pregnancies and childbirth. A healthy childbirth depends so much on what happens during pregnancy. Women can’t do it all by themselves. Project HOPE’s programs reach women where they are - in villages and in factories - to ensure they and key decision makers have the right information and systems to make safe delivery possible.
I met with one of those decision makers whose support can save mothers’ lives while visiting a village in the Serang District, where Project HOPE is implementing a program funded by Johnson & Johnson. The project is strengthening the capacity of health services to handle obstetric emergencies and is also working with communities to make sure they have systems in place for women to reach care in time. I met with Village Chief, Mr. Hasan, who has implemented a Safe Birth Preparedness System (DesaSiaga). The system has a pooled fund for maternal emergency needs, a vehicle for use as an ambulance, walking blood donors (people available to give blood when necessary), and an identification system of all pregnant women. The program also ensures family knowledge, providing education on the danger signs during pregnancy and delivery, and where to seek help. While this village-level system has been a national policy for several years, in this district most of the villages were not fully implementing it when the project started. Mr. Hasan has initiated an association of neighboring village chiefs to form health teams for better coordination and to create further commitments among other chiefs to ensure this system is active. Another decision maker is the Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), who the community respects. The village TBA is now encouraging women to deliver with a midwife, with whom she partners at childbirth.
Factories are also part of shared responsibility for safe motherhood. Earlier in the week, I visited two of the five factories in Subang, Indonesia, where Project HOPE works to improve maternal health, funded by MSD Merck for Mothers. Project HOPE has helped the factory clinics introduce ongoing anemia screening of women. Anemic women are more likely to die from post-partum hemorrhage, which is one of the top causes of maternal death. Anemia was detected in 40% of the women. Pregnant women are now provided iron tablets by the factories, and all women are offered counseling and referral to the free government supply of iron tablets for women of reproductive age. Over 85% of the women are under 34 years of age and in prime childbearing years. Preventing anemia prior to pregnancy gives them a better chance for a healthy birth outcome and also improves their well-being and productivity. The factory management is now making it part of their business practice to provide the screening and treatment.
It’s clear that when maternal health matters to decision makers -whether they are factory managers or village chiefs, women can get the support they need and deserve for a healthy pregnancy and motherhood. Project HOPE is committed to ensuring that decision makers have the information and systems in place to do the right thing to prevent maternal deaths.
Project HOPE is an implementing partner involved in Project UDAY, an operational research project working to develop a comprehensive program to improve prevention, treatment and optimal management of diabetes and hypertension. The five-year program, funded by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. aims to reach 400,000 adults in two states in India, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Project HOPE is responsible for training the project staff and community health workers and developing patient networks in the community.
Today Project HOPE participated in the Urban Health Fest, which was organized by the local Ministry of Health Department in Sonipat in the state of Haryana. The “Health Fest” sought to generate awareness of factors contributing to good health. About 500 people from the community attended the event. Services available to the attendees included immunizations, diet consultations, blood pressure checks, eye check-ups, medicines and general information about hypertension, TB and diabetes.
Project HOPE organized a live session, Making Healthy Food Choices, using traffic light signal symbols to convey what constituted healthy or unhealthy choices. Food items were separated and displayed. The healthiest food items were placed in the green light zone. Foods to be consumed moderately were placed in the yellow light zone, and food to be consumed just occasionally were put in the red light zone.
I’m thrilled to report that four Clinic In A Can units have safely arrived in Sierra Leone, and the crane is working overtime to place these portable medical units precisely in place to serve communities here. People in Sierra Leone are truly excited and grateful to have these solar-paneled portable medical clinics, which were created by the Kansas-based nonprofit, Clinic In A Can. The clinics use solar power energy as their primary energy source and can fit into shipping containers for transport to developing countries.
They have just arrived from the U.S., and we are managing a few challenges here and there to ensure they will all be permanently placed in the Bombali, Koinadugu, Tambaka Chiefdom, and Kambia districts, where some communities are still experiencing outbreaks of Ebola. The portable clinics are a great solution to support the country’s rudimentary health infrastructure, which has struggled to treat Ebola victims and to properly enforce isolation protocols for people who may be infected. More than 11,160 people have died in this health crisis in West Africa so far, and over 3,900 deaths occurred in Sierra Leone. The GE Foundation funded one of the units in collaboration with Project HOPE to support communities still at risk.
Today we visited Serang, Indonesia, a few hours west of Jakarta, where Project HOPE is implementing a program funded by Johnson and Johnson to strengthen the local government's health system for maternal and newborn care and health promotion. Indonesia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in southeast Asia, and the Indonesian Government has made reduction of maternal mortality one of the priorities of its national five year development plan (2014-2019).
We visited a community health post in Panyirapan Village, Baros, a sub-district of Serang. There, health volunteers provide group education on maternal and child health in villages and weigh children under five years old to monitor their growth. In collaboration with the local government, Project HOPE has helped to revitalize the government’s long-standing volunteer program with enhanced training on participatory group education and increased outreach to encourage women to choose childbirth with a midwife rather than a traditional birth attendant (TBA).
Today we also visited Baros Health Center. Here, Project HOPE helped upgrade the Health Center to become a Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) facility by training the health center doctor, midwives and nurses on BEmONC and providing equipment, medicine and medical supplies. We also trained village midwives on quality maternal care (antenatal care, normal delivery care, postpartum care and counseling) and trained community health volunteers (Kader) to promote safe motherhood and healthy behaviors for mothers and children in the community.
When we visited Baros Health Center this morning, we met a young mother. This young mother is 24 years old and from Panyaripan village. She was in labor, about to deliver her second child. She told us her first child is six years old and was delivered with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant (TBA). In this area TBAs are still active, and many pregnant women prefer to deliver at home assisted by a TBA.
The HOPE program recognizes the importance of TBAs in a woman's birth experience and has been conducting joint trainings with volunteers and TBAs together, to help shift the TBA’s role to being a partner with the volunteer educator and the midwife, rather than handling the birth alone.
The young mother stated that she was convinced to deliver her second child at the health center because Mrs. Anita, a Project HOPE’s-trained community health volunteer, persuaded her to have regular, monthly prenatal check-ups at the local community health post. During her regular care, the village midwife told her it is safer to deliver at the health center sinc it has been upgraded as BEmONC facility. She was more convinced to deliver at the health center after she attended the pregnant mothers’ class facilitated by Project HOPE. She also said that she will give her baby breast milk exclusively for six months, the importance of which she has learned during the maternal/child health classes she attended.
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