Team makes it through sand and soaring temperatures to deliver care and medicines

The town of Yola in northeastern Nigeria has become a temporary home to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who are living like refugees in their own country.

Their situation is not well known although many people know about the school girls who were kidnapped from their classrooms, another incident that happened during this conflict.

There are now more than 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. The country in sub-Saharan Africa is the most populous on the continent and while technically it has the biggest economy in Africa, it also has the world’s greatest number of extremely impoverished people.

These IDPs are mostly children and women and they are living in very difficult circumstances.

This month Health Partners International of Canada, in partnership with Food For The Hungry Canada, airlifted 7 skids of medicine to Dr. Khalid Ataelmannan, a general surgeon from Canada, who is working in Nigeria with the Health and Gender Initiative Organization to distribute medical relief.

The skids contained an assortment of medicines requested by Khalid’s partner organization, including several kinds of antibiotics, cholesterol lowering medicine, treatment for ulcers and reflux, osteoporosis medication, antidepressants and more. The total value of these medicines is $1.48 million Canadian fair market value.

“Schools and clinics are among the major challenges these people face,” Khalid wrote in a report to HPIC about the last provision of medical relief when he brought 5 Humanitarian Medical Kits and 5 Mother-Child Health Kits this past spring. “

“The amount of medicines we gave them this spring is the most they had ever received,” Khalid reported. “They were very encouraged and told us that they would be able to carry out all their scheduled medical outreach programs.”

Khalid went out on an outreach day to a village with a mobile team.

“The road is not paved, the terrain is uneven and in some places sandy. We almost got stuck in the sand, which would have meant another 30 minutes to an hour trying to get out of the sand trap. Fortunately that did not happen. However, with the temperature soaring above 45oC, I cannot tell you how excited I was when the village was finally in sight,” he recalled.

The people were waiting in the nearby school waiting for Khalid and the team. They were overjoyed to see them and especially grateful for the medicines from Canada.

Khalid described the scene: “There were elderly men and women, children, young adults and pregnant and lactating teenage girls. The numbers continued to grow as the day went on with people having left home early in the morning arriving around noon after two or three hours of walking.”

“The school, which served as the venue, was in very bad shape,” Khalid said. “You can tell there is no one coming there. With the chairs wrecked, windows broken and no electricity, it was not possible to sit in the rooms when it was above 45oC outside.

“The medical outreach team is used to this. They arranged their registration, consulting and dispensing tables one after the other in the school corridor. The officer in charge of deworming the children stood under a shady tree and gave the medicine to the children. In less than 10 minutes, everything was set up, and we got going. All patients were entered into a register. The patients were then seen and received a prescription. This was taken to the pharmacy technician, who handed out the medication. It was simple and efficient and I could not help feeling very impressed with the way the team adapted to the difficult circumstances.”

The community is used to deworming programs every 6 months or so but they were so relieved to hear of the team coming with medicines. “The numbers were much greater than usual and the news had spread further,” Khalid said.

The team worked in challenging conditions but delivered health and hope to 300 people in one day!


Thank you to all our volunteers!

On the occasion of National Volunteer Week 2018, we would like to say a warm thank you to our hundreds of volunteers from across Canada, from our network of donor healthcare companies, our movement of Izzy Doll knitters and those who crochet, our individual volunteers who offer professional services, our faithful “regulars” in the Oakville-Mississauga area.

Health Partners International of Canada and those we serve in communities in crisis and the developing world are so grateful. This unique Canadian movement to deliver health and hope runs on volunteer power.

“In 2017 we estimate that volunteer packing teams contributed more than 1,500 hours at our DC,” says Nancy McGuire, HPIC’s director who oversees the volunteer program. “This estimate is only packing though- we have people leaving every week as volunteers from across Canada to bring care and treatment to communities in great need around the world. And we have an awesome team of professionals and companies that offer their services and expertise to advance our mission.

On behalf of all those we serve, we want to thank all of you who serve HPIC!”



Nursing students travel to Malawi to develop intercultural competence as they gain hands-on experience

In today’s clinic and hospital setting in Canada, the pace is fast and the focus is on technology.

So how do nursing colleges develop their students to foster understanding, empathy and the ability to provide culturally sensitive care?

“What really struck me when I went to Malawi was that nobody complained. And I met nurses who were caring for 100 patients,” she said.

Melodie has been bringing a select group of final year nursing students to Malawi every year since 2011. “It is a rite of passage for them. They are very young and often lack life experience. I want them to experience what it is to be a minority and I want them to develop an interest in who that person in the bed is.”

“I wasn’t taught how to tailor my care for someone from a different cultural background…we have an objective to graduate nurses who are culturally competent, but how do you do that?”

Participating students are required to provide 160 hours of clinical nursing, during their seven weeks abroad, to meet the course competencies and fulfill the requirements of their Nursing DEC.

They gain hands-on experience teaching and screening for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS at St. Andrews Mission Hospital, a small rural hospital, and at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, a more urban medical institution. They usually travel during the peak of malaria season when extra health personnel is most useful.

The students are guests of the Kamuzu College of Nursing at the University of Malawi where they attend classes. Nursing students from Kamuzu College of Nursing also attend Vanier College as the reciprocal part of this exchange.

When the students travel to Malawi, Melodie insists that they each bring a Humanitarian Medical Kit from Health Partners International of Canada. “This allows the students to have the tools to offer treatment that otherwise might not be available. It is also a way for the students to give something back in exchange for the valuable learning experiences,” she says.

A Malawian couple who are both doctors work for a partner organization called K2 Taso, funded by the Canadian K2 Foundation and also a partner of Health Partners International of Canada. Dr. Peter and Jacqueline Minjale act as local coordinators –and teachers- of the rural outreach care the Vanier student nurses provide.

HPIC provides shipments of bulk medicines to the Minjales and their team at K2. “These medicines may seem cheap to you. For us, they are both expensive and scarce. Even basic medicines, like painkillers, are not available at government facilities.”

K2 uses the medicine to provide treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, for palliative care patients and for mobile clinics offered to remote villages.

HIV/AIDS has been devastating in Malawi. “It has claimed the lives of productive people: leaders, teachers, parents, workers,” he said.

However, there is much hope with the approach of many partners working together to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. Peter believes that they will reach the goal of preventing transmission from mother to child by 2030 to have an HIV/AIDS free generation. “Today there are 31 clinics for ARV (anti-retroviral therapy) care in our district. In 2007, there was only 1 and people would walk great distances to access the drugs available there.”

The HIV/AIDS prevalence in that corresponding period has dropped from 14.6% of the population to 8.7%.

While the numbers are trending down, there are still many people impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Peter showed a photo of a 16-month-old baby being cared for by his aunt. He is an HIV/AIDS orphan.

Out of the 3,883 patients in their care, 152 are teenagers and 403 are in elementary school. “Our mandate is to take care of them,” he says. And through the amazing work that his team does with limited resources, Peter and Jacquie and their team are making a lasting impression on the young Canadians.

Students at Vanier College are beginning to meet Melodie and planning the next trip to Malawi in March 2018.

Link to Vanier Nursing Malawi Exchange blog

The end of the road

Where the road ends, there is a footpath that leads to an isolated community in Ghana.

There are people who live there. They live in remote and rural communities and are some of the estimated 2 billion people lacking access to medicine. HPIC and our partners want to do more to help them.

In November HPIC’s Catherine Sharouty travelled to Ghana and visited two regions: Ashanti and the Volta. Some clinics and health facilities are tucked far away and the people who depend on them can feel forgotten. Catherine and a local partner had to get out of their car and walk in to the community by a narrow dirt path to reach one facility.

“I grew up on this continent and I have seen poverty, but there were many firsts for me on this trip,” she said. “Daily life is very tough here. Seeing how they live and how they cook- wow. Kids walk for 1 hour or more to get to school and when school is over, they sell fruit.”

Added to the difficult conditions is the fact that it is very hot and humid. “Where I visited was mountainous and very green- quite beautiful actually. You see a lot of plantations growing crops like plantains. The roads are red dirt, like in Prince Edward Island, and there are a lot of holes. Most people do not drive and some have motorcycles. In fact, for the pregnant women or anyone who needs to get to a hospital, travelling by motorcycle is often the best – and sometimes the only – option. People living in the remote areas are living mostly from subsistence farming and there are many artisans and seamstresses.

And yet everyone has a phone and they get their news via Facebook and social media. From one region to another, people may not understand each other because there are many local languages and dialects. Only those who have gone further in school speak English.

And yet, Catherine found much reason to hope and enjoyed meeting the local partners and people. The Ghanaian nurses and midwives are very impressive too. “They wear these pressed and perfectly clean green and white uniforms and they arrive at work on time, with a smile and a positive attitude. And yet when I see their workload, the number of patients and the lack of equipment and medicines to do their job, I am impressed by their motivation and perseverance to do the best for their patients.”

Catherine undertook a needs assessment of the maternal and child health services in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti region. “The needs are huge…infrastructure, supply chain and training needs… Yet, all health facility staffs were enthusiastic about and supportive of any program that will enhance their performance and build up their capacity.”

Catherine also visited HPIC MamaCare project partner in the Volta region. “Together, we will be training and equipping 50 community midwives and community nurses, who are of vital importance to remote rural communities in Ghana.

The community midwives get paid with gifts or services. “They are mostly providing the service as a good deed for their neighbours. But they are present and they have experience and with some training and knowledge about when to call for more experienced help, we can save mothers and babies.”

HPIC will be sending staff to Ghana again in 2018 to initiate other health projects.

“There are so many needs- the shelves are mostly bare and the pharmacies can use help to sort and manage the stock that they have. There is much work to be done and we are grateful to the partners who have committed to do this important work.”



How do you spell HOPE in the Dominican Republic? CANADA.

Canada is the name of the street where partner agency ADESJO has an office in San Jose de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic.

For the past 7 years, ADESJO and Canadian partner HOPE International Development Agency have been working with Health Partners International of Canada to increase access to medicine for the most vulnerable people served by their network of 33 clinics across the country. Another key player from Canada is the Scarboro Foreign Missions Society, which sowed these connections years ago and has been a long-time support to the community.

The friendship and support of individuals and charitable organizations from Canada is so valued that the street was named “Canada” as a gesture of appreciation.

In May 2017, HPIC sent staff member Raini Aquino to meet the partners and learn more about this long-term health project. When Raini, a pharmacist originally from the Dominican Republic, visited the local clinic in San Jose de Ocoa, she met a nurse, Zoraida, who had benefitted from a 20-foot container of medicines delivered late last year. Zoraida has been working at the clinic for the last 6 years.

“She was so incredibly grateful for the medicine,” Raini recalled. “She had to come over and thank me for the asthma medication that was donated by Teva Canada Limited.”

Zoraida lives in this town and so this is the clinic that she uses as a patient. “The town is in the mountains, which trap the pollution and causes many people who live there to suffer from asthma,” Raini explained. The dramatic change in temperature from the hot and humid conditions during the day to cold nights also contributes to problems for asthma patients.

Teva-Montelukast is an effective treatment that is taken when needed to control the symptoms of asthma such as difficulty breathing, chest tightness and cough.

“Zoraida’s doctor had recommended this treatment but she could not afford it. Even if she could, the medicine is probably not even available in her town but only in a large city,” Raini explained.

“When the HOPE shipment arrived, Zoraida was one of an estimated 100 patients to benefit from this gift by Teva Canada Limited.

“When you treat the healthcare workers, you are also ensuring that more people can access care and treatment,” Raini explained.

Partner highlight: Teva Canada Limited has been a partner of HPIC since 2003. Lifetime giving of medicine through HPIC is now over $50 million. In 2016, Teva Canada Limited was a top donor of medicine and they also provide annual general funding.

Connecting Canadians to our impact in the field through virtual reality

One million people in 50 countries are treated every year through Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC).

“Our challenge is to connect Canadians to our mission because the people we help live far away,” says Denis St-Amour, President of HPIC. “We have always wanted to bring our donors and potential donors to the field to witness the impact of our work to deliver health and hope to the world’s most vulnerable people.”

On Nov. 20 we learned the great news that we will be able to bring everyone who is interested to the field through a Virtual Reality video project. This project is made possible by a grant from Stronger Philanthropy, a Canadian consortium of foundations and funders.

“We know that the VR video is a great tool but just a tool,” says Denis. “A big part of the project is distributing the video. We will be bringing the VR experience of HPIC on tour to donor healthcare and pharmaceutical companies and to other key audiences before sharing it at a later date on social media channels.”

Virtual Reality technology has been called “the ultimate empathy machine.” HPIC aims to create an immersive experience through a VR video that will bring Canadians to Haiti to visit a health project and meet some of the people who benefit from donated medicines.

The video will be produced this winter and the HPIC VR Tour will begin this spring and summer 2018.

HPIC is very grateful to the selection committee of Stronger Philanthropy for their confidence and we congratulate the other 19 winning charities.

HPIC has many other opportunities for donors to deliver health and hope in 2018. Contact HPIC’s Nancy McGuire for more information: or 1-800-627-1787, ext. 128.



New lead contact for Healthcare Industry Relations at HPIC

Canada’s healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have a new main contact at Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC).

After 17 years of service, Linda Campbell will be retiring at the end of December 2017. “Linda has managed our network of over 60 donor companies in Canada’s pharmaceutical and healthcare sector with great integrity and care,” says Denis St-Amour. “We are grateful for her dedicated service and sad to see her go. Fortunately, we have found an amazing person to lead our relations with our donors of medicine and medical supplies.”

Marcelle McPhaden brings to HPIC three decades of experience covering many different aspects of the healthcare system in Canada and internationally, from working as a physiotherapist, to managing hospital services in Canada and the U.S., to enabling the accreditation of healthcare institutions in the Middle East and Asia.

“I am a long-time supporter of HPIC and am committed to improving health at all levels,” Marcelle says. “I have seen the needs with my own eyes in Cuba, Bolivia and other countries.


“The mission of HPIC was brought home to me following an experience my daughter had in Nicaragua. She is a medical student and was volunteering in the summer of 2016 when she contracted the Zika virus. At the hospital she was given the diagnosis, but they did not have all of the required medicines to treat her. Thankfully, she was able to locate the medicine elsewhere.”

HPIC and its partners share a vision for improving health for the most vulnerable. “When you are healthy, everything else becomes possible: education, employment, democracy,” she says. “I am passionate about contributing to creating a better world through better health.”

Marcelle, who holds a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy, comes to HPIC after serving the Canadian Medical Association, Canada’s national association of physicians. She managed the accreditation of allied health professional education programs in Canada for the past three years and prior to that worked at Accreditation Canada where she managed the accreditation of international healthcare organizations in the Middle East and Asia.

Marcelle also has considerable volunteer commitments, including serving on the Board of Directors of Welcome Hall Mission, which serves at risk children, families and adults in Montreal. In her personal life, she is married and mother to three young adults.

“The common thread in my experience is a heart for quality improvement at all levels of the health system to ultimately bring better care to patients and communities. A large part of our world is missing essential elements to be able to follow best practices, such as access to medicine. I look forward to meeting with HPIC’s partners and working together to advance our mission.”

Marcelle is eager to discuss ideas and interests with HPIC’s partners and any company that may be interested in opportunities to be part of this Canadian movement to deliver health and hope.

Marcelle can be reached at:

514-822-1112, ext. 130






Working for widows, orphans and mothers in sub-Saharan Africa

Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) brings together a diverse array of partners to pursue our mission of increasing access to medicine for the most vulnerable people in the world. We work with healthcare and pharmaceutical companies in the private sector, volunteers, medical professionals and health institutions, Canadian and international humanitarian organizations, community based groups, service clubs and faith-based organizations. We would like to introduce you to one of our project implementation partners: WOW (Working for Orphans and Widows).

In Canada, we rarely use the terms widows and orphans. But in Malawi, Zambia and Uganda, where WOW is active, everyone has widows and orphans in their lives. For the people involved with WOW, caring for widows and orphans is the best way to express their faith in God.


As WOW explains on their website, “In James 1:27 (NIV) it says, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…’ If this is God’s definition of religion- caring for some of the most vulnerable people in the world- then justice must begin with them. The AIDS epidemic has left millions of orphans and widows in its wake. They are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, poverty and disease. We believe God’s heart begins with them.”

Amanda Geleynse, the communications coordinator of WOW Mission, explained to HPIC that the mission of the organization founded in 1999 and based in Burlington, Ontario.

“WOW with our Canadian supporters provide the resources to help our local in-country partner organizations. But they call the shots. We are just there to provide support,” Amanda explained. “We connect churches and resources in Canada to support communities in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Amazing local partners

Amanda says the local partners are amazing. “They come from the community they are working in. Totally engaged, they are excited to better their community. Our partners are organized and are seeking to expand their programs. They are go-getters and smart, they just need additional resources and support.”

“Our local partners truly want to provide the best life for the next generation. These are very impoverished communities but there is so much hope among our partners and beneficiaries.”

Programs include health care, income generating programs, maternal and neonatal care, home based care for the sick and shut-ins, a preschool feeding program, provision of school uniforms and supplies.

HPIC’s partnership with WOW Mission

HPIC partners with WOW by providing shipments of bulk medicines to Zambia to support the Mobile Medical Clinics and sending Humanitarian Medical Kits for Mother-Child Health to support 12 MotherCare support groups in Malawi.

“The value of partnering with HPIC is that you are providing medicines and supplies that are simply not available in the countries where we work. Sending money to buy local medicine works in some places but not where we work. In Zambia, you can send all the money you want but there is limited medicine available,” Amanda explained.

See Richard Brown of WOW in Malawi speaking about the role of donated medicines:

“When I arrived, I was shocked by how impoverished Malawi is, it is actually the most impoverished country in the world. The capital has a few strip malls and then there are slums and rural villages. I heard from a partner in Malawi that sometimes even the government-run hospitals are lacking medicines and equipment and patients die because of this.”

The maternal mortality rate is still very high in Malawi, despite a modest drop in recent years. In 2015, 634 mothers out of every 100,000 births died giving birth, compared to 7 mothers out of 100,000 births in Canada. Think about it: for every 200 births in Malawi, a mother dies.

Mother Care in Malawi

The alternative to MotherCare groups is that women often seek help from traditional healers or neighbours who are not prepared to deal with any complications arising during pregnancy.

One young mother who Amanda remembers is a 14-year-old girl: Her mother got her into a MotherCare group. It turned out she needed a caesarean section and she and her baby would not have survived had she gone to a healer. “They were well cared for by the group and having HPIC’s Mother-Child Health Kit saved her life,” Amanda recounted.

The Mother-Child Kits contain medicines and vitamins as well as equipment for prenatal care, delivery and post-partum care. Having the kit means the MotherCare group can offer the treatment these women and babies need, and the local health workers who manage them receive training to provide their best care.

“All pregnant women need vitamins — but imagine how much more you need the vitamins when you don’t have a good diet? The prenatal vitamins in the kits from HPIC mean that babies are born healthy instead of malnourished, which sets them back for life.”

WOW has a vision to expand MotherCare both in Malawi and also to start the program in Zambia. HPIC has been a partner of WOW for over 10 years. If you would like to support WOW’s work in Malawi you can choose to donate toward the HPIC and WOW project through HPIC’s website

Courtesy: WOW

Courtesy: WOW

Partnership facts

Since 2004

8 shipments in 2017

Active in Malawi and Zambia

Receive about $600,000 worth of medicines every year

Kit a “huge boost” to local clinic

With only 2 doctors to serve a population of 75,000, access to health care and medicine is very restricted for the people who live in Kédougou, Senegal. According to partner Fondation Sénégal Santé Mobile, the region is “one of the poorest and has alarming health indicators.” Maternal and infant mortality are very high: 622 mothers for every 100,000 births die in childbirth and 13 babies out of 1,000 births die in the process of being born.

Joy and relief 

You could imagine the joy and relief when the local healthcare workers at the Centre de Santé de Rusfique received a Humanitarian Medical Kit from Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) packed with essential medicines and supplies that could treat up to 250 people. They were so happy to receive the primary care medicines that they made a video to say thank you.

Watch thank you video 

“Procuring essential medicine in Senegal is very difficult and we experience temporary disruptions in supply as well as permanent disruptions,” the Foundation wrote in their report to HPIC. Regional councils are in charge of obtaining medicines from the central government stores. These stores are not well stocked leaving clinics and even large hospitals dependent on donations from abroad for all sorts of medications, supplies and patient transport equipment.

Vulnerable population 

This donated medicine is a huge boost to an impoverished population, they wrote in the report to HPIC. The region borders on Guinea and features some beautiful destinations for ecotourism as well as mining activity. However, much of the local population does not benefit from those economic activities and every August-September, they experience food shortages.

Thank you 

It is women and children who suffer the most and it is also the women and children that Fondation Sénégal Santé Mobile seek to serve.

The Foundation would like to thank the pharmaceutical and healthcare companies that donate medicines and supplies to HPIC: “THANK YOU — a million times Thank You – keep up the good work. We need and appreciate you very much !!!!”

Our pharma & healthcare donors helping #ChangetheBirthStory in Haiti

Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Americas.

To do something about this unacceptable situation for women and girls, Plan International Canada developed a project called SHOW (Strengthening Health Outcomes for Women and Children). SHOW is a multi-year multi-country project to #ChangetheBirthStory in Haiti, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.

Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) is a partner in the Haiti component of the project funded by Global Affairs Canada. HPIC’s  first airlift of medicines and supplies requested by Plan International Haiti is scheduled for later this month.

On June 15, representatives from the pharmaceutical and healthcare companies that  filled the skids came to HPIC’s distribution centre in Oakville to learn more about how they are helping to #ChangetheBirthStory and to see the skids packed and ready for pick up.

Giving birth a major cause of death

“In Haiti, especially in the north east province, pregnancy and childbirth are a major cause of death for women and girls,” said Plan International Canada’s Tahina Rabezanahary, Senior Program Manager, MNCH. “61 per cent of women in the North-East of Haiti deliver their babies at home and only 32 per cent receive crucial post-natal care within two days of delivery. Women in Haiti have a 1 in 80 chance of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth.”

“I am a mother and I have my own birth story,” said Tahina. “If I was a mother in my home country, Madagascar, I wouldn’t have survived. My story would have been different. When I visited Haiti, a country similar to my home country, I saw poverty, teen pregnancy, limited health infrastructure, lack of services…

“I am forever grateful to people like you and organizations like yours. You give generously so girls and women don’t need to travel to Canada to #ChangetheBirthStory.

100,000 women and partners will be reached

“With your kind and generous support, Plan International Canada is implementing this project that is improving access to health care. …More than 100,000 women and their partners, adolescent girls and children will be able to access medications they need. Together we can change the birth story.”

HPIC’s Director of Product Planning Linda Campbell also thanked the donors and told those gathered what was on those life-saving and changing skids: antibiotics, anesthetics, antifungals, anti-hypertensives, diuretics, anti-malarials, medicines for reflux and pain relief.

“Over and over we hear from our partners in the field that ‘when your medicines from Canada arrive, people start feeling better, they begin healing.’…We are eternally grateful to the pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in Canada who make this relief possible. This project will contribute to saving lives now and will make a lasting impact over the years. Saving the life of a mother gives hope to her community.”

Commitment of Canadian pharma and healthcare companies

The donor companies that are changing the birth story by contributing to this first shipment for SHOW Haiti are: AstraZeneca Canada, BD, Fresenius-Kabi, Henry Schein, Johnson & Johnson Inc., Pfizer Canada Inc., Pharmascience Inc., Teligent, and Teva Canada Limited.

Denis St-Amour, HPIC’s President, closed by thanking the 9 companies that donated to the SHOW project and the industry associations: the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Consumer Health Products Canada, and Innovative Medicines Canada.

“When I was in Malawi last year, I was told that when our medicines arrived, 750 people ran to the clinic to see if they could get treated- this work is thanks to you. This is our opportunity to thank you. Thank you.”