Project HOPE delivers health education and medical assistance to communities in nine countries

Millwood, Virginia, April 20, 2011

Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian aid organization, has begun a nine-country mission to provide health education and medical assistance to communities in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

HOPE medical volunteers on board the massive white hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, sailed to Jamaica, the first stop on the five-month mission, known as Continuing Promise 2011. The Comfort will stop at ports in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Peru.

Nine HOPE volunteers are providing medical care to hundreds of patients and training local physicians, nurses and technicians.  More than a thousand patients received medical care and dozens of surgeries were performed in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.  Primary care services on the mission include cardiology, pediatrics, infectious disease and dermatology.  The Jamaican government has also requested briefings on disaster relief capabilities and coordination from a HOPE volunteer with expertise in emergency management. 

HOPE Medical Director, Tracey Kunkel, an operating room nurse from Pennsylvania and retired from the U.S. Navy after 21 years, is on her third mission for Project HOPE.  Kunkel is teaching a “Helping Babies Breathe” course to community health aides.

““Project HOPE’s train-the-trainer methodology will enable local health care professionals to return to their communities and share their new skills with health care workers in their neighborhoods,” said Kunkel.

Kunkel said local health care professionals are receiving training in nutrition, women’s health and the importance of promoting hand washing to prevent illness. The mission is Project HOPE’s fourth endeavor with the Comfort.

 “It’s a great honor for Project HOPE to be aboard the Comfort once again after an effective collaboration with the U.S. Navy in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in 2009. Our partnership with the U.S. Navy has produced invaluable health benefits to communities in need throughout the Latin American region,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.  

Continuing Promise 2011 is Project HOPE’s 23rd humanitarian aid mission with the U.S. Navy, treating over 550,000 patients, performing almost 9,000 surgeries and training nearly 190,000 health care workers worldwide.

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 (540) 257-3746

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