Disasters & Health Crises
Project HOPE responds to disasters and health crises around the world, providing immediate relief and helping strengthen local health systems for the long term.
When disaster strikes, HOPE is there.
Violent conflict. Deadly disease outbreaks. Record-breaking storms.
While their origins may vary, the result is the same: the health of millions of families is on the line.
We are up against a scale of suffering that cannot be ignored. As the world’s crises compound, its poorest countries bear the cost: hospitals and clinics underequipped, communities underprepared, families unable to go without food, clean water, or medicine.
We’re building a different world — a global community of health workers who have the skills they need to heal people. Hospitals and clinics that won’t be shaken by disaster. Families that have access to incredible advancements in technology and medicine.
Project HOPE has responded to every major disaster since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Throughout our history, we’ve shown up on the front lines of the world’s most urgent natural disasters and humanitarian crises: from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, to the Venezuela crisis, to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We deploy staff and volunteers to provide critical medical support. We deliver lifesaving medicine and relief. And we stay long after the headlines fade to help health systems rebuild.
Our no regrets approach
There’s a critical window of time to save lives after a disaster — only a moment to decide if your team will go or stay, before it’s too late.
At HOPE, we take a “no regrets” approach to responding in times of disaster: We get there fast, we start working quickly, and we stay as long as we have the resources to meet the needs.
By responding with no regrets, we commit to moving as quickly as we can to show up to the front lines and support local authorities. Because when the need is greatest, so is the chance for impact.
For more than 60 years, HOPE has helped heal people and transform lives in more than 100 countries around the world, relying on the expertise of our field teams to strengthen our ability to respond in times of emergency.
“I believe a “no regrets” approach is critical to an organization like ours. There will always be things we don’t know, but when it falls to us to respond, it doesn’t matter: our job is to act first and correct our course as we go, holding always to a do-no-harm approach and the humanitarian principles we were founded on.”
How we provide HOPE
In disaster and crisis, Project HOPE works within health systems around the world to empower health workers with the training and tools they need to save lives.
In the short term:
- We deploy expert staff and volunteers to respond to health and infrastructure needs.
- We mobilize mobile medical units to affected and remote communities in need of urgent care and pharmaceuticals.
- We distribute medicines and relief supplies based on needs outlined by ministries of health and health facilities.
- We do whatever is needed A to immediately save lives and protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities.
In the longer term:
- We strengthen health care systems by repairing clinics, WASH systems, supply chain improvements to keep medicines safe and ensure their availability, and more.
- We improve the skills and knowledge of local health workers priority areas like emergency obstetric care and rehabilitation so they are more prepared for the future.
- We help communities become more resilient by providing emergency preparedness training and guidance.
We know that an emergency response is only sustainable with the earned support of local governments. Our longstanding partnerships with local organizations and ministries of health are essential to our ability to respond effectively and help communities build back stronger.
“We have two immediate objectives after a response is launched and we get on ground. One is to start doing immediate lifesaving activities, wherever it is. And the second is to get tapped into coordination.”
When emergencies arise, speed saves lives
“Our approach is simple: We hear the needs, we go and fill the needs as fast as we can, and we keep doing that until there’s no more need. That’s how we cut through the chaos.”
When crisis strikes, every second matters. We don’t waste time: Our goal is to be on the scene and operational within 48 hours, helping support local health systems, prevent disease and save lives.
We deploy a multi-disciplinary advance team first to assess conditions on the ground and coordinate with local organizations and ministries of health to identify gaps in health services and infrastructure. We begin relief efforts as soon as possible based on what communities need most, providing expert medical volunteers to complement local efforts and provide the health services people need.
We also distribute in-kind aid, working quickly to gain access to affected areas and organize shipments of lifesaving medicines and relief supplies to reach the most vulnerable communities.
Delivering HOPE for years to come
Recovery never happens overnight. It often takes years for survivors to fully rebuild from disaster. Not all wounds are physical, and sometimes the loss can last a lifetime.
We stay for the long haul, until communities have a chance to rebound, build back, and prepare to face the next disaster. To do so, we work closely with ministries of health and local partners to determine how we can help — whether by restoring access to clean water and sanitation, repairing health facilities, or training communities in first-aid.
Emergency response is never just the days and weeks following a disaster — it’s an entire cycle of response, recovery and preparedness. It’s why we’re still on the ground in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Indonesia today.
Explosion in Beirut
A massive explosion rocked the port of Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020, resulting in widespread, catastrophic damage throughout the city. Project HOPE was on the ground in Beirut quickly to provide the vital support people need most.
In response to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, Project HOPE mobilized multiple airlifts of critical protective equipment, including face masks, protective suits, goggles, and gloves. These supplies helped support frontline health workers as they rushed to contain the spread of the virus in Wuhan and Shanghai. As the crisis grew, our response scaled to include countries around the world, including the United States.
Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
In response to the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico, HOPE has built off our response to Hurricane Maria to strengthen cold chains and supply chain management to ensure medicines are safe and available. To protect those living with chronic diseases like diabetes, we’ve distributed cold storage bags and are training patients and medical professionals at nine locations. To help maintain basic health of the affected populations, we’ve sent 2,000 hygiene kits to shelters to provide families with soap, toothpaste and other hygiene items that will reduce the risk of the spread of disease. Our staff and volunteer nurses have ensured delivery of quality healthcare for those in special needs shelters.
Project HOPE was one of the first organizations to respond to Hurricane Dorian, arriving in the Bahamas three days after landfall to deliver urgently needed medical relief and health supplies to survivors and evacuees. Today, HOPE continues to work with partners to provide humanitarian assistance and health care in the Bahamas, focused primarily in Nassau, while coordinating with the Ministry of Health to support the islands’ long-term recovery.
In Venezuela, soaring hyperinflation and shortages of medicines and supplies have caused the health system to collapse. Every day, some 5,000 Venezuelans leave the country in search of food, medicine and health care. HOPE nurses and doctors are supporting the Colombian health system in meeting the health needs of Venezuelans who cross the border, especially pregnant women and newborns.
When Tropical Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique in March 2019, HOPE deployed a team of emergency response experts and medical volunteers to Beira — the area most in need. Our team treated survivors living in a shelter, and traveled by helicopter to reach more remote villages. We also distributed antibiotics, fever reducers, water-purification tablets, and medical supplies such as gloves and syringes for insulin. To protect against malaria, we supported partners in distributing specially–treated mosquito nets and facilitating specialized training for health workers to recognize and treat its symptoms.
In September 2018, a deadly earthquake shook Indonesia, triggering a tsunami that devastated the island of Sulawesi. Traveling by both air and sea, our medical team in Indonesia was one of the first to arrive in the hard-hit city of Palu with lifesaving medical support, supplies and medicines so health clinics could reopen. Our response extended beyond urgent care: To prevent malaria and other vector-borne diseases, we distributed insecticide nets to over 58,000 households. To restore access to clean water and sanitation, we installed three water purification systems at health clinics and trained unit operators and community members in their continued maintenance and use. We also mentored health workers at clinics and provided education on health and nutrition.
Fuego Volcano, Guatemala
After hundreds were killed or injured in a volcanic eruption in Guatemala, HOPE deployed an emergency response team and provided water filters, medicines, medical supplies, equipment and more. We treated patients with burns, respiratory issues, PTSD and other related symptoms following the disaster, as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes complications.
Project HOPE was one of the first organizations to arrive in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — and we’re still on the ground today. In the first days and weeks after the storm, we delivered over $2 million in medical supplies, including 1,500 vials of insulin for the island’s diabetic population. To build resilience for the long term, we’re helping people living with diabetes learn to better manage their health and established a solar-powered, island-wide cold chain to ensure uninterrupted access to medicines and vaccines in the event of another disaster, like the earthquakes in early 2020.
Get the facts
Extreme weather displaced more than 17 million people from their homes last year — that’s more than the populations of Sierra Leone and Lebanon combined.
As the climate crisis intensifies, so does the threat of natural disasters. In places highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like Indonesia and Puerto Rico, people live under constant threat of the next disaster. The fear of earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis is passed down through the generations.
We live in a more densely populated world than ever before, which presents health concerns with potentially grave consequences. Under the microscope, the threat of various health crises is rapidly rising.
Yemen. Syria. Venezuela. We see them in the headlines every day, yet it’s impossible to imagine the scale of need facing families who have to endure the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
How you can help
Make a lifesaving gift to support our work now and for the future at projecthope.org/donate.
Are you a health-care or other professional who would like to learn more about volunteering abroad with Project HOPE? Learn more about our volunteer program and join our volunteer roster.
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