Project HOPE Warns Substantial Health Needs Persist in Puerto Rico On First Anniversary of Hurricane Maria
Millwood, VA – (September 20, 2018) — Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian relief organization, today warned that Puerto Rico’s substantial health needs must not be forgotten one year after Hurricane Maria, as the island’s damaged infrastructure means patients with chronic conditions will require support for years to come.
“The Category 4 hurricane shattered the lives of many Puerto Ricans and severely damaged the public health system,” said Andrea Dunne-Sosa, Regional Director of the Americas at Project HOPE. “This means that many patients are still struggling for access to adequate medication and regular care. We must not look away from Puerto Rico even though the focus of much of the world has turned elsewhere.”
Project HOPE was among the first NGOs on the ground a few days after Maria made landfall on September 20th last year. During HOPE’s successful emergency response, mobile medical teams panned out across 47 municipalities, reaching over 4,000 people around the island. HOPE also delivered over $2.5 million of donated medicines and supplies.
Following the emergency response phase, Project HOPE established an office in Puerto Rico and transitioned to longer-term health program activities that will help support the restoration of a functioning health system and deliver tangible benefits to patients while tackling some of the most acute health care needs.
“We launched program activities for a new diabetes program which focused on reducing the burden of diabetes in Puerto Rico and improving patient health outcomes. Our ‘5 Steps to Self-Care’ program, which is tailored to the local culture and aims to improve self-management among people with diabetes by teaching best practices and healthier habits,” said Dunne-Sosa.
We’re also training health care providers to serve as facilitators to empower people to manage their disease and that’s a capacity that will stay and grow as the training will grow in local communities.
Additionally, HOPE established key partnerships over the past year to serve the people of Puerto Rico, including with the Planet Water Foundation to install AquaTowers in communities that experienced issues with the treatment and quality of the water. Two locations were identified and the first tower was successfully installed on March 22nd on World Water Day in the Celso Gonzalez School at Loiza.
“Lack of clean water is the leading cause of absenteeism in schools as it leads to more illness among kids, so we were thrilled to partner with Planet Water to bring this crucial resource to the Loiza community,” said Dunne-Sosa.
“While there remain serious, long term problems in Puerto Rico afflicting the health care system, the dedication of doctors, nurses and health workers is an inspiration and the endurance of the islanders offer hope that with the appropriate support, the situation can be improved tangibly by the time of the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria,” said Dunne-Sosa.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is a leader in global health and humanitarian relief programs. An international nonprofit organization, we are committed to transforming lives and uplifting communities by empowering health care workers to teach and deliver innovative, lifesaving solutions, every day and in times of crisis. With programs in more than 26 countries, we work at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges including infectious and noncommunicable diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal, and child health; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. Learn more at www.projecthope.org.