Clinics in Haiti overflowing following Hurricane Matthew

There is an urgent need for donations of medicines and funding following Hurricane Matthew’s catastrophic impact in Haiti.

Initial reports are that clinics are overflowing and a new cholera outbreak threatens to take even more lives. Haiti – one of the world’s poorest countries – has never fully recovered from the earthquake that killed thousands of people in 2010 and the cholera epidemic that followed.

“This is an opportunity to the help those in serious need,” says Denis St-Amour, President of HPIC. “Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) is capable of rallying large volumes of medicines in response to the needs on the ground.”

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry in Canada is reviewing inventories and beginning the donation process. Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) has received firm commitments to date from:

Henry Schein
LEO Pharma Canada
Patterson Dental

HPIC is expecting to equip teams and organizations in the coming days. Every $1 donated to HPIC delivers at least $10 of medicines.

Donate now

Fixing one little mouth at a time

Lack of dental care is so bad for Mayan natives in Guatemala that toothaches and infections develop into problems never seen in Canada.

Dr. Russell Grover says that when he and his team go to Guatemala, they face “a mountain of decay and abscesses.” Sometimes when they see all the problems, they think “we’ll never be able to fix them all. But we’re fixing it for this little one today,” the dentist said in the team’s video report to HPIC, referring to a little girl.

Dr. Grover, a dentist from Hamilton, Ontario, went with a Canadian volunteer team in the spring to the Merendon Mountains in southern Guatemala with the organization Canadian Central American Relief Effort (CCAMRE). They also operate programs that provide scholarships, support destitute families, provide community buildings, and educate local people.

In a video he sent to HPIC, the dentist said the saddest thing he sees is “little people who have to go to sleep every night as their teeth deteriorate.”

HPIC equipped Dr. Grover and his team with two Humanitarian Medical Kits for dental care and three kits for primary care, enabling them to treat 400 patients, including 170 kids.

Most medical and dental conditions go untreated in the community. The annual CCAMRE visit is all the care available. The main concerns this year were toothaches. In his report, Dr. Grover wrote: “On many people we saw we only extracted root tips because their teeth had already rotted back to the gum line. Other problems were respiratory infections, pneumonia, asthma, diarrhea, intestinal parasites, peptic upsets, dermatitis, hypertension and diabetes.”

Patterson Dental donates enough dental supplies to HPIC to be able to provide 20 dental kits every year.

Dr. Grover’s team uses kits from HPIC every year and are so happy to see that their work to raise awareness about good hygiene practice is starting to make an impact. Dr. Grover wrote in his report that “we were doing a home visit when I noticed an outdoor sink cover with metal. In the frame of the metal were toothbrushes and some toothpaste. When we asked the father, he stated that his entire family brushed their teeth every day with or without toothpaste.”

There is so much gratitude for the volunteer care and donated medicines from Canada. “The patients would thank the donor companies so much. As poor as they are, they try to give back to you to thank you. We have actually had women run after our pick-up trucks when we leave trying to give us live chickens. They don’t eat them but use them for eggs. So they are actually trying to give us the food they feed their families with. How humbling is that?”

Watch the video report to HPIC:

Preventing blindness in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone there are only two ophthalmologists in the entire country treating a population of about 6 million people. So they rely on mission teams coming from abroad for eye care.

Dr. Annette D’Souza, an ophthalmologist from New Westminster, B.C. and the founder and president of International Vision Volunteers Canada, goes twice a year to Sierra Leone to provide eye care and to train local personnel at a hospital. When she travels, she brings a Humanitarian Medical Kit for specialized care from Health Partners International of Canada, filled with donated medicines and supplies that she requests for her work in Sierra Leone.

Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital was destroyed in the civil war in 1994 and it was reopened about 6 years ago. Around that time, Annette began developing eye care services at the hopsital.

“Glaucoma is extremely common in Sierra Leone and there is only one eye drop available in the country,” says Annette. “They do not have a range of eye drops like in Canada, for example. The local eye drop is particularly useful in the population but it is not that available; and when it is, it is expensive. People who get glaucoma may go blind if untreated.”

In a telephone interview with HPIC’s Catherine Sharouty, she explained: “IVVC’s goal is to provide stable, regular eye care exams for the poor. Having the donated medicines on hand helps us tremendously. It’s a huge benefit to the population. People in Kamakwie are very poor. Most survive by subsistence farming and the unemployment rate in this area is about 70%. The entire country is really poor. Life expectancy is not beyond 50 years.”

Annette sees about 400 patients and does about 100 surgeries (mainly on cataracts) each time she goes to the hospital, usually for about two weeks.

She remembered one patient of a colleague on her team in particular: a mother who developed cataracts soon after she gave birth to her first child. “Her sight was restored after surgery and she was able to see her baby again. This was one of the most rewarding cases,” she said.

One time she was walking around in the community and someone waved her over. She waved back and the man told her “Look, I am working now because you did the cataract surgery for me.”

“We rely very heavily on the pharmaceutical companies to be able to provide this service,” Annette says. “Our objectives are to restore sight to as many blind people as possible, and to prevent blindness in others. We are so grateful to Allergan for helping us do this.”

Allergan supported Annette’s mission with donations of various kinds of eye drops, including one especially for treating glaucoma.




Very busy shipping month brings HPIC close to $500 million milestone

The month of July is high vacation time in Canada but not at Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC).

“The needs are ever growing and we are blessed with the donations of medicine we need to be able to respond,” says Denis St-Amour.

Last month, trucks were pulling up to the bay at our distribution centre in Oakville at a steady pace. In total HPIC received $3.7 million worth of medicine or more than 37 skids.

“And we turned that around and shipped out $4.1 million worth of medical relief shipments,” says Wes Robinson, HPIC’s Senior Director of Operations and Emergency Response.

A major shipment was 100 Mother-Child Health Kits to Kenya with The Salvation Army. Other shipments included two containers with HOPE International Development Agency to Honduras and the Dominican Republic, and 59 Humanitarian Medical Kits for primary care.

“As of today, the grand total of medical relief provided through HPIC stands at $499 million,” says Linda Campbell, Senior Director of Product Planning. “We expect to reach the $500 million milestone in August, meaning that close to 30 million treatments have been provided through HPIC and our implementing partners.”

This summer you can help HPIC deliver health and hope and move all this wonderful medicine to people who are waiting and hoping to receive the treatment they need to recover. Every $1 donated to HPIC is multiplied to deliver at least $10 of essential medicine to a community in need.

Consider a summertime donation because diseases and viruses do not take holidays.


Self-care products in high demand for vulnerable communities

In reports to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), doctors, humanitarians and NGOs often cite appreciation for self-care products. These are products that one can administer to oneself or to their child without a prescription from a doctor.

“The communities we serve are extremely vulnerable and lack access to medical care and medicines,” says Maricarmen Raudales, HPIC’s Senior Director of Programs. “They are experts at self-care because they have to be and they really appreciate items such as vitamins, analgesics and antifungals.”

HPIC has a long-standing partnership with Consumer Health Products Canada (CHP Canada) and many of their member companies. Johnson and Johnson is among HPIC’s top level of donors and our top donor of self-care or over-the-counter medicines in 2015. Pfizer’s consumer division also provides many donations of selfcare products. Pharmascience and Vita Health are also consistent donors of self-care products.

“We are proud to acknowledge and celebrate our partnership with CHP Canada and manufacturers of self-care products on the occasion of International Self-Care Day,” says Denis St-Amour, President of HPIC. “So many of our projects include self-care products. Our Maternal Care Kit is built with self-care products. This kit gives mothers and babies a wonderful start in life.”

For more information about self-care and some health care tips we can all take to heart, see these resources from partner CHP Canada:

What is self-care video

Infographic about 7 Pillars of Self-Care


‘Thank you HPIC’: Haitian kids

A team of 11 volunteers, aged 20-70, travelled from the Timmins, Ontario area church, South Porcupine Pentecostal Church, to Haiti in April for a week of service with Haiti Ministries, which serves at-risk Haitian children. Two of the team members were nurses and the rest were going to help with maintenance and to work on upgrading facilities.

Michel and Louise Charbonneau of Canada have been in Port-au-Prince Haiti for almost 20 years managing the feeding program of Haiti Ministries. Every week the organization teaches 800 kids at their school and feeds 900.

“Currently, the medical needs of these children are not being met,” wrote Pat Albrecht in her application to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) to obtain a Humanitarian Medical Kit. Each kit is packed with enough essential medicines and medical supplies to provide treatment to about 250 people.

“We hope to help improve this situation by holding a clinic while we are down there, and then providing the permanent staff with supplies to continue caring for the children after we are gone,” Pat wrote in her application. “The nurses traveling with us are very impressed and excited about the items in the Humanitarian Medical Kit that you provide.”

Just what they needed

Once back, Pat confirmed that the kits were useful: “Most of the products we brought were just what they needed. The remainder of the products are going to be used by the doctor who services the school. We got to see them use the products while helping with the clinics during the time we were there. They send their thanks.”

According to Pat’s report to HPIC, the clinic had never received such “a thorough and useful supply” as the kit provided through HPIC.

Two nurses serve the school and feeding program regularly. “Our two nurses were allowed to serve as well, and learned as much as they helped,” Pat wrote. “During each clinic time, about 20 children and teens were served. A few adults, parents of the
kids and staff at the school attended, as well.”

Haitian children thankful

The clinic is prepared to deal with worms, diarrhea, malaria, and typhoid. Though the most common cases are fevers, tummy aches, injuries, colds and headaches.

“I would say that these donors (of medicines) have made life easier and more pleasant for a lot of people who have so many struggles in their lives. The children were thankful for the chance to have medicines available, as well as the special attention they get at the clinic,” said Pat.

Life-transforming surgical mission in Angola

A skilled surgeon equipped with the needed supplies for a surgical mission can be a miracle worker! And two particular patients in Angola certainly experienced life-transforming surgery thanks to the care provided by Dr. Andrew Giles and sutures donated to HPIC by Ethicon recently.

Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) equips doctors, teams and surgeons with Humanitarian Medical Kits to provide care for people living in vulnerable communities. And companies like Ethicon, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, help us fill those kits in order to equip health workers.

Dr. Giles brought a kit for specialized care to Angola, where he and his wife Stacey worked at a mission hospital associated with Samaritan’s Purse. HPIC presented Dr. Giles’ project to Ethicon and the company agreed to donate a variety of sutures for the surgical mission. The kit from HPIC contained a large supply of sutures, particularly permanent sutures used for tendon repairs, hernia repairs, and skin closure.

“These were indispensable materials of high quality, which they would otherwise not have access to in Angola, ensuring that we could continue to provide the high-quality surgical care Angolans deserve.

“Appropriate supply of high-quality and affordable expendables helps to facilitate excellent patient care that can be accessed without cost barriers,” wrote Dr. Giles.

Skin grafting
“One common use for the type of suture that was donated is in performing skin grafting,” Dr. Giles wrote in his report to HPIC. “Skin grafting is necessary in a wide variety of clinical scenarios – from treating burns, to venous ulcers, to severe infections requiring radical debridement. In addition, there are no surgical staples available in Angola. Thus, all wounds are closed with sutures. Permanent sutures, such as the Ethicon sutures, ensure we are working with good materials that decrease surgical time, improve wound healing, and decrease infection rates.”

He then went on in his report to share stories about two patients.

“Evangelina (name changed for privacy) is a young woman who suffered a series of misfortunes, including the death of her husband, leading up to a suicide attempt by drinking a caustic cleaning agent. This left her esophagus scarred to the point that she was unable to eat or drink. Although she was from Zambia, she came all the way to CEML to seek treatment. As soon as she arrived, a surgical feeding tube was placed to allow her to have nutrition.

On hopeful road to recovery
“Unfortunately she fell victim to a rare post-operative necrotizing infection, which required the removal of her skin on one entire half of her torso. She was in critical condition for several days, but with close medical attention, she rallied to the point that we could cover the area of lost skin with a skin graft from her leg. She subsequently went on to have an esophagectomy as a definitive treatment for the main problem of esophageal scarring, and is now on the long, but hopeful, road to recovery.

“Another patient, a young girl of 6 years old, had a severe burn of her hand. It went untreated, so that when she came to us at an outside hospital, her left hand was scarred and contracted, completely unusable. We took her to the operating room, removed the scarred tissue and released the contracted tendons, and applied a skin graft from her abdomen to allow the hand to heal naturally. We hope and trust she will have more normal use of her hand as she heals.”

Angola was a very challenging place to work for the Giles. However, they felt a deep sense of gratitude for the experience and would like to do more work like this in the future. “Our intent is to return to train local physicians to become competent medically and surgically, as it is relevant to them and the needs of their populace.”

Muhammad Ali: legendary boxer, poet and Humanitarian Medical Kit carrier

Muhammad Ali’s insatiable drive was to help strangers in need. This is what his daughter Hana wrote in 2011.

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was a heavyweight champion boxer, Olympian and one of the most revered sports heroes of the 20th century. One of his most popular quotes showed his thinking about charity and service: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

This concern for helping others led “The Greatest,” who passed away June 3, 2016, to cross paths with Health Partners International of Canada in 1997.

Recalled working with Ali
Upon learning of his death, John Kelsall, former president of HPIC (1993-2008), recalled the story of Muhammad Ali and HPIC working together to get medical relief to a Catholic nun and orphans in the Ivory Coast. “There was a brutal civil war going on in Liberia and over 200,000 people died. Those who could, escaped,” John said. Ivory Coast became home to 350,000 Liberian refugees.

One of the people who escaped was a sister who was, according to an Associated Press article, caring for 105 children, including 61 who were handicapped. An additional 400 children depended on her for food and medical care.

Sister Sponsa Beltran (1925-2016), an American nun in the Bernardine Franciscan order serving as a missionary in Liberia, had reached out to various people to help her. And Muhammad Ali heard her plea. Amazingly Ali died just two months after Sister Beltran, whose own life could have been a script for a great movie. One journalist who interviewed her a few years before her death, called her community of sisters “the Catholic Church’s answer to SEAL Team 6” (an elite American navy counter-terrorism unit).

Sister Beltran’s service in Africa
In a tribute in a Catholic newspaper, Sister Beltran’s life of service was described as follows: “She spent over 30 years (1970-2007) caring for the poor and disabled of Liberia, West Africa. She helped them to survive a 14-year civil war, a five-year exile in the Ivory Coast, and repatriation to the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, where she founded Our Lady of Fatima Rehab Center. Through the years, she faithfully served the Lord as she cared for thousands of children and adults who were disabled, resulting from birth injuries, disease and ferocious accidents. Today, there are a multitude of handicapped children and adults living in the U.S. and around the world who were abandoned by their families and who owe Sister Sponsa their lives due to her unending love, care and acceptance.”

Now back to the 1997 story and the HPIC connection to these two legends of sports and humanitarian relief. “When Sister Beltran and the children fled from Liberia, they had the clothes on their backs and were in desperate need,” John recalled.

“Muhammad Ali marshaled a shipment of food, clothes, shelter materials, and even school supplies from the generous people of the U.S.A.,” John said.
“However, he was not able to find the needed medicines to care for the children’s wounds and health needs. He made this need known to a number of his friends including a businessman from Montreal, Yank Barry.”

Needs list for orphans matched our kits
Barry contacted HPIC and asked if the organization could help with the medicines. “We looked at the needs list and it was a good match for our Humanitarian Medical Kits,” John said.

John went to the Montreal airport to meet Barry with the two kits. When they went to check in the medical relief at the Air France cargo desk, they told the airline about the project with the boxing legend. Air France decided to waive all the charges and fly Muhammad Ali’s entire humanitarian shipment to the Ivory Coast free of charge.

Then the kits, containing enough medicines and supplies to treat about 450 people, flew on to the Ivory Coast via Paris and were personally carried by Muhammad Ali to Sister Beltran. On August 20, 1997, he arrived in Ivory Coast and was greeted by fans shouting “Ali! Ali!” He delivered his gifts of food, supplies and medicine to Sister Beltran at the Centre Bon Berger Catholic Mission, 200 miles west of the capital Abidjan.

“Muhammad Ali was so grateful for the provision of medicine that his plan had been to fly back through Montreal and meet the staff of HPIC to thank us in person.

Gesture of gratitude from Muhammad Ali
“However, his Parkinson’s flared up on the way home and he had to go straight back to the United States. A week later, I received a personally autographed boxing glove from him as a gesture of gratitude,” John said. “We have cherished that ever since.”

John and his wife Lottie had felt called to donate the funding to sponsor the kits so when he retired, he took the glove as a souvenir. “When our son, John Jr., returned from a year of service in Afghanistan, we decided to give him the glove in recognition for his commitment to helping the people of Afghanistan. A staff sergeant with the OPP responsible for the training of Tactical Rescue Units, John Jr. had been in the country on special assignment from the Ontario Provincial Police to train the Afghan National Police.”

“Muhammad Ali was a great boxer,” said John, “but what makes him truly great is how he cared for people he didn’t even know.”

You can see a photo of Muhammad Ali with Sister Beltran and read more about his humanitarian heart here.

Photo of Muhammad Ali and Yank Barry meeting Sister Beltran in Ivory Coast.

Rural communities in Swaziland about to receive help thanks to cbm Canada-HPIC partnership

A donation of medical supplies and medicines was packed into a container last week and is currently en route to Swaziland with cbm Canada, an international Christian development organization committed to improving quality of life for persons with disabilities in the poorest countries of the world.

“Thank you so much for your recent donations,” wrote Natalie Capone of cbm to HPIC. “Our partner is very excited to receive them in the coming months. Thanks to you, HPIC and your supporters, children and communities in impoverished villages will receive lifesaving medical equipment and supplies. Your gift will help nurses and doctors provide healthcare services to rural communities and help people access braces that they couldn’t have afforded without your help.”

The shipment consists of $62,000 worth of medical supplies and some medicines, including a major provision of anti-inflammatories. Donors to this shipment are: Covidien, Johnson & Johnson inc. and Pharmascience.

cbm Canada’s on-the-ground partner will be doing mobile clinics to rural communities in Swaziland. The country is the size of New Jersey and has a population of 1 million people. Ravaged by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, one-fifth of children are orphans. According to cbm, all populations in rural areas do not have proper access to medical care.

A special focus of cbm is always on children and adults living with disabilities. “Today, some of the most excluded people in society are people living with disabilities,” cbm states on their website. “If you take this exclusion half way around the world to some of the poorest countries, a lack of resources and education makes the exclusion even more obvious.”

$1.74 million worth of Apotex medicine being airlifted to Ecuador

A significant mobilization of medical relief is arriving in Ecuador this week via Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) thanks to a major donation from Apotex.

“We are so thankful for this donation that matches the needs identified by Ecuador’s Ministry of Health perfectly,” says Denis St-Amour, President of HPIC. “We shared the needs list with Apotex and they invited HPIC to view their available inventory and make a selection. This is a wonderful donation that will really help the people of Ecuador. We are also grateful for some funding support to help cover shipping.”

In total, 14 skids worth $1.74 million consisting of a variety of Apotex medicines are being airlifted to HPIC’s partner in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The medicines donated include antibiotics (1.9 million tabs total), analgesics and inflammation/fever reducers (1.8 million tabs), anti-fungals, anti-hypertensives, medication for diabetes, anti-anxiety medication, eye drops, and antihistamines.

HPIC was able to move this medicine thanks to generous financial support from Initiative 360- Take it Global and Apotex.

“I would also like to thank Initiative 360 – Take it Global for the major critical funding provided to airlift the medicine donated by Apotex,” Denis said. “This medical shipment will help ensure that health workers have what they need to provide care to those who have already lost so much.”

Watch a video of the medicines being prepared for airlift