HPIC attending Prime Minister’s Global Summit on Maternal-Child Health

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hosting an international summit May 28-30 in Toronto to address the health of children, newborns and mothers.

“We are honoured to be invited by our Prime Minister to this event bringing together global leaders and Canadian experts on this issue with the goal of saving every mother and every child,” said HPIC’s President Glen Shepherd.

Maryanne Mutch, HPIC’s Executive Director, Programs, will be representing HPIC at the three-day event. The needs of women and children is a cross-cutting theme in HPIC’s Capacity Building and Access to Medicines project in Kabul, Afghanistan, funded by DFATD. The CBAM project, begun in 2010, is HPIC’s most ambitious and successful initiative. By increasing access to good quality medicines and supplies, HPIC has worked to improve the quality of life for all Afghans, including women and children.

The Afghanistan project had two key strategies. The first was to deliver quality medicines to public hospitals in Kabul as a humanitarian response to pressing needs. The second was to improve long-term access to medicines by working on Afghanistan’s pharmaceutical supply chain.

A year into the CBAM project, HPIC’s Board of Directors identified the health of mothers and children as an overarching priority for the relief and development organization focused on access to medicine.

Since then HPIC has completed a number of projects aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality. In 2012 and 2013, HPIC partnered with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada to offer life-saving workshops to Zimbabwean doctors and midwives to learn practical skills to save babies and mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period.

In 2013, HPIC helped sponsor the publication of the Neonatal Handbook, intended for Zimbabwean doctors and nurses. This handbook is also available free of charge on HPIC’s website in the hope of placing life-saving knowledge in the hands of healthcare workers in vulnerable communities.

Most recently, HPIC developed the Mother-Child Health Kit. “The purpose of this kit is to put the basic tools and medicines into the hands of frontline health workers to save mothers and babies,” Shepherd said. By the end of 2014, an estimated 160 kits will have been provided to partners in Benin, Haiti, Malawi, Niger, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We are looking forward to what will develop from the Prime Minister’s Summit this week,” Shepherd said. “We hope that the issue of maternal and child mortality will remain a global priority. It is within our grasp to do something very impactful for the children of the world: save their mothers.”


HPIC Launching Response to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

An outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted HPIC to launch a coordinated response with its partners. This outbreak is the first of its kind in the area, and is considered a serious threat to the people of Guinea, Liberia, and potentially Sierra Leone.

As of April 9th, a total of 158 confirmed cases, including 101 deaths, have been officially reported in Guinea, as well as 5 confirmed cases and 20 suspected cases in Liberia. Given the incubation period of up to three weeks and the challenges of containing this outbreak, more cases will likely be identified in the coming weeks.

In response to this outbreak, HPIC is working closely with Plan Canada to identify detailed needs in areas of medicine, medical supplies, and protective equipment needed to support case management and infection control in primary healthcare facilities. In the coming days, HPIC will mobilize its efforts to coordinate gift-in-kind donations from its healthcare industry partners to ensure that critical medicine and medical supplies reach the affected areas as quickly as possible.

You can help place urgently needed medicines and medical supplies into the hands of first responders on the ground. Please consider donating to HPIC’s Emergency Relief Fund to support our ongoing work in situations such as these.

Thanks Volunteers!

During National Volunteer Week the team at HPIC would like to thank our amazing volunteers: our regular operations crew, the 20 companies that send teams to pack Physician Travels Packs every year and the individuals who offer their unique gifts to advance our mission. In the past year, about 1,000 hours were donated to HPIC in packing Physician Travel Packs, helping with inventory counts and doing emergency packing. HPIC also benefitted from the gift of free professional consulting and office help.

All added up, it is a great contribution to our mission and we are most grateful!

Life-saving medicine for premature babies in Zimbabwe

NIAGARA FALLS (April 1, 2014) -The last time Dr. Artaj Singh visited Zimbabwe, he came back to Canada eager to obtain a special medicine that is used to help pre-term babies survive.


“Dr. Greg Powell, Neonatologist at Zimbabwe’s Harare General Hospital, had told me that they lose many pre-term babies because their lung function is not developed enough and having lung surfactant could help address this,” said Dr. Singh, Lead Physician at Primary Care Niagara. “I was very motivated to return to the country with this medicine.”


Dr. Singh, Board Chair of HPIC, a relief and development organization dedicated to increasing access to medicine and improving health in the developing world, was able to bring 40 precious vials of lung surfactant to Dr. Powell’s hospital, which is run by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, this month.


“The neonatal staff are delighted and can’t wait to utilize the surfactant on some premature babies,” wrote Dr. Powell in an email to Dr. Singh and HPIC. “This has never been done in a government hospital before so it will be quite something.”


Dr. Singh expects that it will be able to save the lives of 30 premature babies. “This is really addressing the needs of a vulnerable community. Dr. Powell told me that the drug is prohibitively expensive and not always available.”


Once Dr. Singh had confirmation of the donation, he planned a leave from his busy family practice in Niagara Falls with Primary Care Niagara and hopped on a plane. The medicine has to be kept at a controlled temperature so everything had to line up just right for his trip to Zimbabwe.


“Everything went according to plan and now these babies will have a chance at life,” Dr. Singh said. “The neonatal ICU expects to be using the medicine in the next month once they can get ventilators set up for their little patients.”


Dr. Singh took this medicine through HPIC’s Special Physician Request program. The SPR program allows Canadian doctors and medical specialists to request specific medicine they need for a volunteer mission to the developing world.


Remembering Tina Simpson Leslie

Staff members at HPIC were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of Rev. Tina Simpson Leslie, program partner for more than a decade with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission Canada.

“Tina was so loved by the people in St-Louis du Nord,” remembers Helen Crawley, HPIC’s Director of NGO Programs, who had travelled with Tina to Haiti. Together they visited the hospital where Tina used to minister and which receives shipments of essential medicines from HPIC. “She was so invested in this mission and her work touched many lives and hearts.”

Tina was pastor along with her husband, Bev, at Mississauga Christian Church. Tina’s husband had been battling cancer and passed away on March 1. A day later Tina passed away suddenly from meningitis.

Tina made many special connections to the people served at the mission hospital, such as a 10-year-old boy who came in with a younger boy who was four years old. In a report to HPIC, Tina said that they found out that the older boy had adopted the younger one. “We asked where they lived and he told us that his family was dead, and he and the patient slept under an abandoned truck,” she wrote in her report. The boys were taken into care by the mission, which also runs an orphanage, school and feeding program.

Tina, a minister, explained that the population served by the mission are very poor. There are no schools and 80 per cent of the population cannot read. “Skilled physicians train people to help them, change bandages and help in hundreds of ways,” she wrote. “I stand in awe of the highly skilled men and women who are willing to go at their own expense to bring comfort and healing to the poor and suffering and the courageous people willing to go and help them.”

“Tina, we at HPIC were in awe of you,” says Glen Shepherd, President of HPIC. “You were a woman of deep faith who had a lot of courage and devoted a great part of your life to serving the least of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We extend our deepest sympathy to Tina’s children and family and to her church family in Mississauga and especially to all those in Haiti who are very much missing their special friend from Canada.”

HPIC looks forward to continuing to work with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.

Montreal pediatric surgeon performs life-saving surgeries in Rwanda

When Dr. Sherif Emil was on his way back from a medical mission to Rwanda, his thoughts turned to his young Rwandan patients. One of them was an emaciated and unstable baby boy.

Dr. Emil recounted the story in his blog Dispatches from Rwanda:

“He had not been fed for two weeks, but miraculously survived. Significant resuscitation and preparation was needed to allow him to undergo surgery.”

It was Dr. Emil’s last day in Kigali and he had been expecting to operate on the baby at 8:00 a.m. “To my surprise, the entire operating room was on hold. The hospital had no water supply since the previous night, preventing the sterilization of instruments.”

Around 2 p.m. the operation finally began. The obstruction was repaired, and a feeding tube was introduced that would allow the baby to be fed the following day.

“I pray he makes it,” Dr. Emil wrote in his blog. “I think of this baby, the other 19 children I operated on, and the dozens more I saw during my stay. I think of the ones who perished when they should have survived and the ones who survived despite all the challenges, including two babies similar to my last patient.

“I think of my daughter, and the anxiety my wife and I live when she experiences relatively simple medical problems. And I remember how fortunate we are. …I resolve to accomplish two very important tasks when I return. First, I will give my wife and daughter the biggest and tightest hug I’ve ever given them. Second, we will all kneel down on our knees and thank the Lord for what we have.”

Dr. Sherif Emil, Director of Pediatric Surgery at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, had been at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Kigali in December as part of an agreement between McGill University Health Centre’s Department of Surgery and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Rwanda. HPIC had equipped Dr. Emil with a Special Physician Request bundle of supplies and medicines valued at $6,500 donated by Ethicon, GSK, 3M, Henry Schein, AstraZeneca and Becton Dickinson. Over his short time there, Dr. Emil had operated on 20 children, from newborns to older teenagers, for a range of issues including congenital abnormalities and tumours. The antibiotics and local anesthetics were enough for 100 patients.

“The donations of medicine and medical supplies are invaluable in allowing us to carry on these missions,” Dr. Emil wrote in his report to HPIC.

IMS Brogan partners with HPIC for optimized Physician Travel Pack (PTP) process through innovative Corporate Social Responsibility initiative

Spending decisions at not-for-profits most often lean toward programming and activities that touch the mission directly. As a result, not-for-profits often end up doing things the same way they have always done them, using dated practices, technologies and tools.

About 18 months ago the HPIC team  realized how much the growing demand for its products and services had rendered some of the current processes, technologies and tools unable to respond . This was particularly important in a not-for-profit environment where organizational effectiveness is essential to ensure donationsgo towards mission projects. The need for optimization and transformation was evident.

With limited budget and resources, HPIC was looking at innovative ways to address this transformation need. HPIC hired Umalia, a Corporate Social Responsibility consulting firm, to design and implement an innovative partnership initiative aimed at optimizing some of HPIC’s core processes, starting with the PTP process, to enable medicines to reach individuals more efficiently across the globe. The partnership involved the provision of people, expertise and funds and used IMS Brogan’s core transformational competencies to achieve effectiveness.

“We are so grateful for the partnership with IMS Brogan,” said Glen Shepherd, President of HPIC. “Partners who understand that infrastructure investment is mission-critical are rare. This partnership with IMS Brogan is taking the PTP application process to the next level.”

HPIC’s Physician Travel Pack (PTP) program had been running for more than 15 years when HPIC started working with IMS Brogan and Umalia. It has seen tremendous growth  over the past five years.. “The project allowed HPIC to revisit an internal process and to identify possible improvements to facilitate the provision of medicines to Canadian healthcare professionals going on medical missions,” Shepherd explained.

A number of improvements resulted from the project, which concluded recently, with an average of 20-40% measurable improvements. Perhaps the biggest improvement is facilitating the application process by streamlining the application form used by partners and moving from printed hand-filled forms to online application forms,resulting in significant savings of time and thus enabling HPIC to send more PTPs in the same timeframe.

These and other process and technology improvements enabled HPIC to act even faster than before, allowing for more than 10  tonnes of medicine to be sent in  record time during the Philippines crisis.

A need for many program partners is a way to receive donations from multiple donors to support their PTP. HPIC is currently developing an added feature to the online application form that will allow PTP partners to funnel all their donors to a website to make donations directly online to HPIC. HPIC will then provide email updates about the donations received. “These improvements are going to help HPIC provide essential medicines through our Physician Travel Pack in the most efficient and effective way for our partners. We are grateful to IMS Brogan for supporting HPIC through multiple means, including  their core competencies as a transformative consulting partner to the healthcare industry,” Shepherd concluded.


Medicines from Canada will help local teams taking over now in the Philippines

A little over a month ago the most powerful storm to make landfall struck the central islands of the Philippines. It is now known that 14 million people were affected, 4 million were made homeless, 5,924 people lost their lives and 1,779 people are still missing.

“The storm and all the chaos it created has now moved out of the news cycle, but its impact will be felt for years and our work continues,” said HPIC’s Director of Emergency Relief Wes Robinson. “The need for medicine and health care remains great. The WHO tells us that the most common health issues are acute respiratory infection, fever, diarrhoea, hypertension, skin disease and wounds. Wounds are largely related to clearing debris. The needs of pregnant women and young children are huge too. In the next three months, 88,500 births are expected.”

Trudi Hilton, who travelled to Manila to help with the distribution of medicines for HPIC and our partner IHP-UK, called the situation in the Philippines “critical but stable.”

“Many of the foreign medical teams are now returning to their home countries,” Hilton, a pharmacist with IHP-UK, said. “They came with medicines and now the local teams will need to be supplied with medicines to do their job effectively. There is a horrendous breakdown in the supply chain.”

HPIC has provided medical relief through a variety of partners. The largest provision to date was the delivery of 240,000 treatments of essential medicines airlifted to the World Health Organization in Cebu, the hub of the relief efforts for the affected areas.

“This donated medicine from Canada arrived at exactly the right time,” Hilton said. “This will provide the range of products required. These medicines are all top quality and all very much in need.” Hilton would know since she spent her time in Manila meeting with the Philippine Pharmacists Association and the Philippines Department of Health.

To date, HPIC has received, accepted offers or provided already $9.1 million worth of donated medicines and medical supplies.

“We are just thrilled with the response from the Canadian healthcare industry and from donors across Canada, who entrusted HPIC with their donations for the Philippines,” said Glen Shepherd, HPIC’s President. “I will be travelling to the Philippines in the new year so we can report back to our donors about what we have been able to accomplish together.”

HPIC still needs funding to cover all the costs related to this major mobilization of medicines. The Government of Canada will match all donations made by individuals to registered Canadian charities for Philippines relief efforts until Dec. 23, 2014. To make a donation securely online: http://bit.ly/1fddUYV


Canada’s pharmaceutical industry rallying together through HPIC to send essential medicines to the Philippines

MONTREAL (Dec. 3, 2013) – Ten tonnes of donated essential medicine and medical supplies from Canada were delivered by Health Partners International Canada (HPIC) to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cebu, Philippines today. The medicines will be distributed where the needs are greatest in the affected areas.

This major donation, representing 240,000 treatments contained in 400 Emergency Physician Travel Packs, is just part of the medical relief efforts HPIC has coordinated for the Philippines. Many Canadian individuals, corporations and organizations have sprung into action since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November.  The two sectors of Canada’s pharmaceutical industry are working together to provide hope and healing to the 11 million people affected by the storm.

“This medicine will mean the difference between sickness and health, pain and relief, life and death,” said HPIC President Glen Shepherd. “We are so grateful to Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) and many of their member companies for supporting our medical relief efforts in such a direct and practical way.”

In partnership with HPIC’s Health+Hope Alliance partner IHP-UK, HPIC has two representatives on the ground. Dr. Jorge Martinez is in Cebu and is HPIC’s eyes and ears in the city where all the aid efforts are being coordinated. Dr. Martinez is attending the WHO Health Cluster Meetings and will personally receive the medicine arriving today. Trudi Hilton, Chief Pharmacist with IHP-UK, just came back from Manila where she was working with the Philippines Department of Health to ensure that the medicines are handled properly and dispensed according to best practices.


To date, HPIC’s pharmaceutical industry donors have committed $8 million in donated medicine and medical supplies. (See the annex for a complete list of donors) HPIC has already provided 458 Emergency Physician Travel Packs or 274,800 treatments. HPIC expects to provide more medical relief in bulk shipments and in portable Physician Travel Packs in the weeks to come.


For more information, please contact:

Christina Parsons
Senior director, Communications
Cell : 514 949-9183


HPIC is a Canadian not-for-profit relief and development organization dedicated to increasing access to medicine and improving health in the developing world. We provide donated essential medicines and hospital supplies; build health sector capacities; and respond to emergencies and health threats. More info available on our website: www.hpicanada.ca and you can follow our updates on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hpicanada


Donors of medicines and medical supplies (as of Dec. 2, 2013) to HPIC’s Philippines Medical Relief:

Henry Schein Canada
Jamieson Laboratories
Johnson & Johnson Inc.
Pharmaceutical Partners of Canada (PPC)
Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Canada
Vita Health Products Inc.