HPIC’s President and Chairman meet Prince Charles

The Prince is the royal patron of International Health Partners – U.K., a sister organization that was established in 2004 with the help of HPIC.

John Kelsall, President of HPIC, and Jake Epp, Chairman of HPIC, met HRH Prince Charles and several CEOs’ of the global pharmaceutical industry at a dinner at Clarence House on June 11.

The Prince is the royal patron of International Health Partners – U.K., a sister organization that was established in 2004 with the help of HPIC.

The dinner was hosted with the hope of bringing industry leadership in Europe together to discuss how to work together through IHP-UK and HPIC to improve access to needed medicines in the developing world.

“The Prince told us that he is eager to see the success of HPIC spread to the U.K.,” says John Kelsall, President of HPIC.

Baby Elaine and hundreds of Nicaraguan youngsters cured with simple medicine

Diarrhea is a leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Nicaragua. Baby Elaine came dangerously close to being a part of those statistics.

When the nine-month-old baby arrived at the local hospital, she was suffering from her third bout of diarrhea and dehydration. She presented symptoms of thirst, tiredness, and dry lips and eyes.

Elaine’s father earns about $33 a month as a construction worker and her mother takes care of the children. “It is hard for us to buy medicine,” says her mother, Mayela.

When they arrived at the hospital this time, treatment was available thanks to a shipment of medical aid from HPIC that included oral rehydration for children.

Dr. Santos Reyes, a pediatrician at the children’s hospital where Elaine was treated, was happy to receive the donated medicine because “it does not cause any complications in children.” His colleague, Dr. Reyes Mairena, treated Elaine and was “very glad since electrolyte solution with grape flavour facilitates the ingestion for children and the quality is excellent.”

Without the medicine donated by HPIC, the hospital could not meet the needs of its young patients. “We treat many children with diarrhea every day,” says Esperanza Correa, Head of Medical Supplies at the hospital. “During the rainy season, the number increases by 40 per cent. We will be treating more children.”

Baby Elaine, along with the other children treated with the electrolyte solution, was quickly rehydrated, to the great relief of her mother. “I give thanks to God because there are organizations that care for poor people like us,” she said.

Congolese partners say thank you to HPIC

“Every antibiotic treatment that is prescribed is literally saving a life,” says Sheldon Gilmer.

Gilmer, who runs Help the Aged’s program in DRC, came to HPIC’s office recently to share some stories about the difference the donated medicine is making. HPIC has been partnering with Help the Aged since 2003 by providing medicines and supplies.

Gilmer brought along Sabuli Sanguma, who is the treasurer of the Communauté Évangélique Ubangui Mongola (CEUM). The CEUM is a Congolese faith-based organization that is Help the Aged’s on-the-ground partner in DRC. The CEUM manages four hospitals, including a teaching hospital, and 86 community clinics to serve a population of 500,000 in this isolated corner of DRC.

While visiting Canada, Sabuli expressed her thanks to HPIC and HPIC’s partners who make the medical aid possible.

“I wanted to come and say thank you,” she said. “After the civil war ended, the hospitals and the governments had nothing, no medicine at all. Since this project with Help the Aged began, we are able to help people.”

People know that when they come to a CEUM hospital or clinic that they will receive medicine, she says. Since they began receiving medicines and supplies from Help the Aged and HPIC, there has been a 240 per cent increase in the number of patients coming to their clinics. “Without medicine, your baby could die in your arms because of a fever. I don’t know how to thank you. You are saving a lot of lives.”

Sabuli says that everyone has a personal story of how the donated medicine from Canada has saved someone close to them.

“My mother is 87, which is unusual in DRC where people generally live to 55 or 60,” she says. “A nurse went to her home on a routine visit and found her very ill. He was able to use HPIC medicine to treat her. He told me: ‘If I didn’t go see your Mum, I don’t know if she would have survived.”

Sabuli was going back to DRC with $30,000 worth of medicines from HPIC and said there would be a big party when she came home with the medical aid.

HPIC remembers Mother Teresa

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

These are the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who died 10 years ago this month. The diminutive nun whose life was dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor is an example to Health Partners International of Canada and many of our partners. As she herself put it, she felt called to be “love in action.”

In the summer of 1997, only weeks before Mother Teresa’s death, a Canadian woman carried seven Physician Travel Packs to India and handed them over to her. The PTPs were used by her community, the Missionaries of Charity, to care for the sick and the dying.

“Her boldness in inviting people to give until it hurts and to join her movement of compassion continues to inspire us at HPIC,” says John Kelsall, President of HPIC. “Like Mother Teresa we are moved by the plight of millions of people in the developing world who don’t have access to the very basics of life, including care and medicine.”

Ten years after her death, her legacy lives on in so many people all over the world, including those who partner with HPIC to spread health and hope to some of the darkest places in the world.

Mother and baby alive and well thanks to medicine from HPIC

Julia was four months pregnant with her fourth child when she developed blood clots in her lungs. Left untreated, these clots would be a death sentence for her and her unborn child.

Dr. Ben Khingi, a doctor at Mulago Hospital in Uganda, says that the medicine to treat her and other Ugandans suffering from blood clots is generally not available. “We are faced with patients who literally do not have the drug that can save their life,” he wrote to Dr. Linda Douville, a Canadian physician from the Toronto area who volunteers with him on a regular basis.

Dr. Douville passed along his special request for anticoagulant medicine to HPIC. A few days later, thanks to a quick response from a generous product donor, the medicine was hand carried by Don McLaughlin, a member of High Adventure Ministries, the Canadian group that Dr. Douville works with in Uganda.

Julia was one of the patients treated with the medicine. “The first time we saw her she wasn’t able to walk across the room,” says McLaughlin, who brought the medicine to the Mulago Hospital in November 2006. “She had been told to massage her leg pain, which moved the clots to her lungs. &She had collapsed during her pregnancy with a pulmonary embolus.”

When McLaughlin returned to Uganda with Dr. Douville in July 2007, they visited Julia and her new baby, who was born in May. “She is alive and so is her baby boy, baby Don. They are alive because she was able to receive this medication. Thank you HPIC.”

4,000 PTPs and counting

Dr. Tony Tom and son in Guatemala with the 4,000th PTP

HPIC has crossed another milestone. Dr. Tony Tom of Vancouver carried the 4,000th Physician Travel Pack of HPIC’s history on a medical mission to Guatemala this summer.

Each PTP contains enough basic medicine and medical supplies – generously donated by Canadian health-care companies – to treat hundreds of people.

Dr. Tom says, “Many of these children and their families do not have any medical care. Through these free clinics, using the medications so generously provided by HPIC, we were able to meet some of their health needs and show the people that we care.”

HPIC expects to provide some 200 more PTPs to doctors and humanitarians travelling overseas by the end of the year.

HPIC provides needed medical aid for the people of Afghanistan

Health Partners International of Canada is working with partners in Afghanistan to provide desperately-needed medicines and supplies for the people of this war-torn country.

Following its first shipment of medical aid in 2004, HPIC has established a partnership with CURE International Hospital in Kabul, for the provision of $3 million of medical aid over two years.

HPIC, in collaboration with the Afghanistan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, is gearing up to significantly expand its medical aid program and help the Afghan people build a reliable healthcare infrastructure. You can be a part of this important work and help treat illness and save lives in Afghanistan.

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Donated antimalarials are saving lives in Africa

Dr. Douville treats a child in Uganda

Before August 2006, Canadian doctors and humanitarians going on medical missions to Africa did not have the medicine they needed for malaria, a top killer on the continent.

“I am a doctor, but I am useless without the donated medicines,” says Dr. Linda Douville, a family physician from Newmarket, Ontario, who regularly carries Physician Travel Packs (PTP) from Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) to Uganda to provide free health care.

A PTP contains a broad assortment of primary care medicines and medical supplies for treating hundreds of children and adults in the developing world. Designed to be hand carried, a PTP is all a doctor needs to set up a makeshift clinic and begin seeing patients.

Since antimalarials were added to the PTP a year ago, Canadian doctors going to Africa now have one of the medicines they need the most.

“This was always a major gap in the contents of the Physician Travel Pack,” says Samar Assousa, HPIC’s Director of Physician Programs. “Antimalarials have always been the most requested medicine from people going to Africa.”

HPIC is very focused on the needs of patients in the developing world. “Knowing that there is such a huge need for antimalarials in Africa, we are so pleased to be able to offer this to the Canadian medical professionals and humanitarians serving there,” Assousa says.

Lou Paolucci took a PTP to Malawi this year. She was accompanied by her husband, a family doctor from Kingston, Ontario. “Malaria is as common as our colds in Africa,” she says. The Paoluccis treated a four-year-old boy named Jonas with an antimalarial. “He presented with a high fever and signs and symptoms of malaria.” With the treatment he recovered.

Jonas is one of an estimated one million orphans in Malawi. The Paoluccis report that these children are especially vulnerable to malaria. “Thank you so much for providing the medicine,” she writes.

Dr. Douville was also very appreciative of the antimalarial medicines when she served in Uganda last summer. “Malaria is the number one cause of death in Uganda,” she says. “A little girl came to our clinic with cerebral malaria and survived, thanks to these medicines.”

“In fact, malaria is so common that people come in with their own diagnosis,” Dr. Douville says.

Dr. Douville estimates that about 20 per cent of the patients who come to the clinic have malaria. “Some people get over it on their own, but others develop complications and fever and die.”

By the end of 2007, HPIC provided close 700 PTPs worldwide. Roughly a third were destined for Africa. In 2008, HPIC expects the demand for PTPs to increase by several hundred.

Travel packs warmly received in Haiti

Dr. Auguste opens her PTP

Dr. Johanna Auguste has a good reason to smile thanks to Physician and Dental Travel Packs from HPIC.

The young Haitian physician, trained in pharmacology, medicine and radiology, has been operating a clinic with little medicine. In September of this year, that changed.

Ray Trask of the Burlington North Rotary Club travelled to the town of Grand Goave and delivered a Physician Travel Pack from HPIC to Dr. Auguste. The majority of the residents of Grand Goave live in poverty. There is no electricity, no running water, no sewage system. There is garbage in the streets and in the river that flows through the town. Many children show signs of malnutrition: bloated stomach, orange hair, glassy eyes. Few attend school. “They have nothing,” says Trask. “The infrastructure just doesn’t exist.”

Health care in the area has fallen victim to this lack of infrastructure. Clinics and hospitals exist, but the staff is under-paid and the pharmacies lack adequate supplies. Generators provide power but are unreliable. Patients are expected to pay at the door for all the medicine, dressings and services they will require. Many are unable to do so.

Dr. Auguste’s little clinic is different. She offers services to those who are unable to pay. And now, thanks to the PTP, she has the medicine she needs to treat most of her patients. “The medicines were definitely well-received,” says Trask. “She says she couldn’t have got them any other way. It was like Christmas.”

Trask travelled to Haiti with Georgina Cosentino, dental assistant and director of Healthy Smiles for Haiti. Cosentino is a regular visitor to the island, and has been responsible for equipping and staffing a dental clinic as well as conducting dental missions in several areas. To do her work, she relies on the Dental Travel Pack and Physician Travel Pack from HPIC.

“To have this medicine is so invaluable,” she says. “We could not do what we do without it.”

Vitamins Changing Lives in the Dominican Republic

For young children and pregnant women in the Dominican Republic, vitamins mean all the difference in looking forward to a healthy future filled with hope.

Registered nurse Gail Perry from Ontario has been part of a humanitarian team that has been travelling to a village in the Dominican Republic for 15 years. The team carries Physician Travel Packs (PTP) from HPIC to the doctor at a local clinic where medicines and other medical supplies are either in short supply or non-existent. Among the products are vitamins.

“Vitamins are one of the most important things in the Physician Travel Pack,” Perry said. “These people are so undernourished that vitamins are the first line of treatment. We have to build up their systems in order to be able to treat them for other ailments.”

“The mothers are undernourished. Babies weigh an average of 3 lbs at birth and they suffer from malnutrition too,” she said. “Vitamins help break the cycle. If we can build up a mother’s health, she will have a healthier baby. She can nurse. The baby gets a good start.”

Over 15 years, Perry has noticed the children being more alert and brighter, due in great part to the use of vitamins. “These children need to get a good education for long term change to happen,” she said. “When they are undernourished, they do not learn. The first group of kids who had been treated with vitamins when they were young arrived at kindergarten bright and eager to learn. This will change the future of the community.”

“I am extremely grateful for the vitamins. How can I express the deep joy of saving babies’ and children’s lives? Without them, we couldn’t do it. All of us need to find a way to share what we have with people in need.”