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Millwood, VA, November 12, 2012

Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, in partnership with Merck, a leader in global health care (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada), has delivered a second shipment of PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent), a vaccine that helps to prevent pneumonia caused by the pneumococcal virus, to Honduras as part of the country’s National Vaccine Campaign. 

The National Vaccine Campaign began in 2011 as a three-year phased program undertaken collaboratively by Project HOPE, Merck and the Honduran Ministry of Health to vaccinate adults ages 60 and older and at-risk individuals between the ages of 2 and 59 with chronic diseases.

Through this public-private partnership, Merck has donated to Project HOPE more than 675,000 doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 and made a charitable contribution of $300,000 to help strengthen health care capacity in Honduras over the course of the program. In addition, the funds have been used to train Honduran health care workers how to plan and implement successful vaccination programs.

To date approximately 150,000 Hondurans have been vaccinated, and 823 health care workers have been trained.  Because the vaccine needs to be kept cold at all times, refrigeration equipment has been purchased and installed.  Funding for the program has been used to construct a cold room in the region of Comayagua, which is being used to store the donated vaccine.  These investments have strengthened the vaccine distribution system throughout the country and will provide a solid infrastructure for vaccination programs in the future.

“Thousands of our citizens are already benefitting from Project HOPE’s expertise and Merck’s generous donation,” said Dr. Ida Berenice Molina, Manager of the National Vaccines Program at the Honduran Ministry of Health.  “With this second shipment, we will be able to vaccinate even more vulnerable people so that serious illnesses can be prevented.”

Known to potentially lead to serious illnesses, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia can invade the body and cause sinus and lung infections or spread by entering the bloodstream to cause meningitis, bone and joint infections or pneumonias.  In 2005, the World Health Organization estimated 1.6 million people die of pneumococcal disease every year worldwide.

“This second shipment will further contribute to Merck’s commitment to improving access to our vaccines and helping to build health care infrastructure through innovative public-private partnerships in the Americas,” said Eduardo Cortes, Managing Director of MSD in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

As part of the program, Project HOPE staff in Honduras is working with the Honduran Ministry of Health and community health groups to raise awareness and knowledge about pneumococcal disease and its prevention.  Prevention is important as certain pneumococcal bacteria are becoming more resistant to common antibiotics making them harder and more costly to treat. 

Project HOPE has managed active humanitarian assistance programs in Central and South American and the Caribbean for many years. In Honduras, HOPE has implemented maternal and child health programs, strengthening local health care capacity in child nutrition, pneumonia case management, immunization and Vitamin A supplementation.  The organization also operates a Village Health Bank (VHB) initiative in country that provides microcredit and education to raise awareness about domestic violence, HIV and sexually transmitted infection vulnerability to women. 

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.  For more information, please visit www.projecthope.org.

Media Contact

Geraldine Carroll +1-540-257-3746 gcarroll@projecthope.org

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