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More than 120 Project HOPE medical volunteers will work aboard the USNS Comfort and ashore in seven countries on the four-month mission to the Caribbean and Latin America

Millwood, Virginia, April 5, 2009

Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian assistance organization, is sending more than 120 medical volunteers to join the United States Navy, inter-agency and other non-governmental organizations to provide health care and health education to communities in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of Continuing Promise 2009.

HOPE Volunteers will be part of the 650-person team of medical professionals who will live and work aboard the United States Navy Ship Comfort, as well as ashore in seven countries.

“The mission with the Navy is an historic humanitarian milestone for Project HOPE in the modern-era,” said John P. Howe, III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE. “The original SS HOPE sailed on 11 humanitarian missions, creating a legacy enjoyed by HOPE volunteers and staff today. The Continuing Promise ’09 mission marks the twelfth mission for HOPE and the Navy since 2005.”

Beginning in April, the USNS Comfort, three football fields long and one wide with 250 beds and 12 operating rooms, will visit ports in Antigua, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama.

Project HOPE volunteers, drawn from some of the leading U.S. medical and educational institutions, will serve alongside their Navy counterparts, on 17- to 28-day rotations, offering  care  to individuals and health education and training to local health care providers in each country. Volunteers recruited for this mission come from many varied backgrounds including registered nurses, pediatricians, emergency and family practice physicians, surgeons, x-ray technicians and biomedical equipment specialists.

“Our partnership with the U.S. Navy not only allows HOPE volunteers to provide immediate relief for those who need care, but also offers a great platform for Project HOPE to make a lasting impact through lifesaving and enduring health education,” added Dr. Howe.

Along with medical volunteers Project HOPE will also donate medical equipment, medicines and supplies to the ministries of health and medical facilities of the countries they visit.

Project HOPE first partnered with the U.S. Navy in 2005 after the Indian Ocean Tsunami.  Over 210 volunteers from 37 different states answered the call for assistance after the catastrophic natural disaster. The partnership was called upon again, later that same year, to help closer to home during relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.  

Since 2005, Project HOPE, the U.S. Navy and other partners have provided humanitarian assistance and health education in 27 countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and West Africa. Project HOPE has sent 700 Project HOPE medical volunteers, who along with their Navy counterparts, have cared for more than 300,000 people, provided health education to 66,000 and delivered more than $31 million in medicines and medical supplies.

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About Project HOPE

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world's first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in 35 countries across five continents. For more information, please visit www.projecthope.org.

About Continuing Promise 2009

Continuing Promise (CP) is an equal partnership mission designed to combine partner nation and U.S. relief capabilities to demonstrate the lasting bonds and shared interest among neighbors. This is the fourth humanitarian and civic assistance mission to the Latin America and follows Comfort's 2007 deployment and USS Boxer (LHD 4) and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Continuing Promise 2008 deployment to the region.

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