Project HOPE treks to remote areas to deliver lifesaving vaccines to vulnerable communities

Millwood, Virginia, November 10, 2011

Pneumonia kills more than 1.5 million children under  five years of age each year and almost all of these children live in developing nations. Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, is making sure the fight against pneumonia reaches even the most remote areas of Nicaragua and Honduras where health workers deliver vaccines against pneumococcal disease, a major cause of pneumonia.

“Pneumonia puts a huge burden on communities and health systems in the developing world.  HOPE’s mission is to provide health opportunities for people everywhere.  In Nicaragua, it involves donating vaccines and training health workers to deliver them with proper storage techniques so coolers can travel by boats and horses to deliver unspoiled vaccines to remote areas,” said Courtney Guthreau, Regional Director for the Americas for Project HOPE.

Vaccines can safely and effectively prevent pneumonia before it occurs. Project HOPE is collaborating with the Nicaraguan and Honduran Ministries of Health to vaccinate over 1.7 million people at high-risk over a three-year period. Target populations include older adults (aged 50 +) and people 4-49 with weakened immune systems, particularly those living with chronic diseases and HIV/AIDS.

HOPE’s 50 year relationship with corporate partner Merck & Co., Inc. (known as MSD outside of the U.S. and Canada), together with decades of collaboration with the Nicaraguan and Honduran Health Ministries lay a strong foundation of this effective public-private partnership. Merck generously donated 1.7 million doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) vaccine, along with U.S. $1 million to build health system capacity in both countries via health worker training, cold chain and data-collection strengthening and community awareness campaigns. According to a related study overseen by Project HOPE, the projected savings for the Nicaraguan government, and families who will not be affected by pneumonia thanks to the vaccine, is equivalent to 3.5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), or more than U.S. $600 million. Watch video

World Pneumonia Day is held annually on November 12 to raise public awareness of the millions of childhood deaths that pneumonia causes each year and to encourage efforts to prevent and treat this deadly disease.

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 provides medical training and health education, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries.

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Geraldine Carroll  Tel. 540.257.3746

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