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Project HOPE Volunteers Teaching Skills To Reduce Child Mortality Rate

Millwod, Virginia, May 5, 2011

Project HOPE medical volunteers have arrived in Cameroon to share their expertise with health care professionals at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital in a mission that aims to enhance the care provided to women and children in the West African nation and reduce child mortality, a key indicator in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Volunteers from Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, are providing hands-on clinical training and mentoring to doctors and nurses in services such as obstetrics, pediatrics, neonatal care, midwifery and gynecology in the first-ever HOPE mission at the hospital, located in the capital, Yaounde. 

Dr. Jay Smith, a retired physician from New Hampshire, is serving as HOPE’s Medical Director at for six months. Smith first developed an interest in global health while living in Kenya as a teenager. With expertise in public health, Dr. Smith has conducted health research in Peru, Nicaragua and Mali while maintaining clinical skills and addressing the medical needs of hospitalized psychiatric patients.

“The people of Cameroon deserve first-rate curative care -- it will take time to achieve this ambitious goal, but Project HOPE volunteers are committed to do our very best,” said Dr. Smith.

Known as The Volunteer Medical Rotation Program, Project HOPE is committed to a long-term partnership with the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital.  The partnership is also supported by the Maria Rosa Nsisim Medical and Surgical Foundation and the Cameroon government. 

The Cameroon Ministry of Health has welcomed HOPE’s assistance to treat endemic diseases including dengue fever, malaria and meningitis among others. Project HOPE initiated the volunteer program at the request of the Africa Investment Corporation and Good Works International to help improve maternal health in Cameroon.

HOPE volunteer, nurse Linda Jo Burt of Utah,  is working with local health care practitioners to develop education and training programs and initiatives aimed at improving women’s and children’s health, especially reducing neonatal mortality.  In addition, Burt is exploring programs to address HIV/AIDS, another serious health concern in Cameroon that is difficult to manage.

“HIV/AIDS is a diagnosis we see regularly.  There is a strong stigma against HIV/AIDS in the villages and patients are reluctant to disclose or accept their positive status. They stop taking their anti-retroviral medication to hide their condition, which inevitably gets worse” said Burt, who has over 40 years of experience in nursing that includes patient care in surgery, intensive care, orthopedics and nursing administration.  Currently, Burt is the Chief Clinical Officer for Mountain View Hospital in Utah.

Project HOPE has a long history on the African continent. The organization established health education programs in Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi and South Africa and has conducted humanitarian aid missions with the U.S. Navy to Ghana and Liberia. Project HOPE first brought health education and aid to Africa in 1964 when the SS HOPE traveled to Guinea.

“Project HOPE is most eager to help Cameroon reach the ambitious targets outlined in the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and we believe our volunteers will play a key role in this effort,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals which all United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The goals include new commitments to women’s and children’s health and other initiatives to fight poverty, hunger and disease.

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health crises, 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.

Media Contact

 Geraldine Carroll  Tel. 540.257.3746  gcarroll@projecthope.org

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