Apotex donations for Haiti arrive

This week Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) received a very large donation from Apotex in two different shipments.

The medicines were donated to HPIC for our Haiti emergency medical relief project.

“We are very grateful for the 7 skids of assorted medicines,” says Denis St-Amour, HPIC’s President. “This is the largest donation we have received for Haiti.”

The donation was an assortment of long-dated medicines specifically requested by HPIC’s on-the-ground partner Food For The Poor Haiti. It includes medicines for treating cholera and a host of other health issues Haitians face since Hurricane Matthew struck on Oct. 4, 2016.

Elie Betito of Apotex visited HPIC’s distribution centre in Oakville today to see the medicines being prepared for airlift.

Breaking the chains of mental illness in West Africa

Naked, chained to a tree, alone and abandoned. Never leaving your spot for days, weeks, even years. Outside in the sun, in the rain, day and night, day in and day out. Occasionally whipped and routinely starved. Living in your own filth, living an absolute nightmare.

This is the terrible reality for many people who are considered to have mental illness in West Africa. In Benin, for example, there is only one mental health hospital. And you have to pay to be admitted.

“These people are the forgotten of the forgotten. They are the most vulnerable people of a vulnerable population,” says Grégoire Ahongbonon, who is visiting Canada this month and stopped by the office of Health Partners International of Canada Oct. 27.

Must-watch amazing video produced by Dr. Benoit Des Roches, a psychiatrist from Quebec who volunteers with Grégoire.

Grégoire has made it his mission for the past 27 years to restore the dignity of these suffering people. He is the founder and director of l’Association Saint-Camille-de-Lellis, an organization that runs 16 centres for people living with mental illness in Benin, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo.

Grégoire’s organization has treated more than 60,000 people. He has picked them off the street naked, broken the chains that are tying them to trees at “prayer camps” and rescued them from back rooms where their desperate families have been keeping them.

The horror they live is hard to describe. In this part of the world, people with mental illness are thought to be possessed by demons, involved in witchcraft, cursed.

There are thousands living at so-called “prayer camps” where they are tied to a tree until a prophet deems them healed. There is no treatment there, Grégoire explained, only prayers for healing. They are routinely starved in the hope that the demon that lives in their body will die.

Grégoire rescues them. First they clean them thoroughly, then diagnose, then treat. “Sometimes the impact of the treatment can be seen within days,” he told HPIC staff.

“The best stories are the people who have recovered and now work at our centres, helping people who are sick, like they once were, on the path of healing. There is so much hope in this work,” he says.

HPIC regularly provides psychotropic medication to Les Amis de la St-Camille, a Canadian organization that fundraises and helps provide needed resources to Grégoire’s organization.

“As long as there is one man in chains, it is humanity that is in chains,” Grégoire said in an interview with The New York Times.

“Thank you Eli Lilly and Pharmascience for the olanzapine (a drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disease),” he told HPIC. “We reserve it for the patients in the worst state and it works so well for acute crises.”

Grégoire is spending time in Canada to meet supporters and donors. It is challenging to get support for people with mental illness. His hope is kept alive by many individual successes, and propels him to share his powerful stories so more people can live with dignity and freedom.

Watch this New York Times video interview of Grégoire and report on his work

Grégoire thanks HPIC donors for medicine 

Major airlift for Haiti being prepped

Watch our Haiti relief update video

Air Transat is offering a free humanitarian charter to Haiti to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) partner agency Food For The Poor Canada.

The airplane will be loaded with requested aid, including 15 skids of medicines and medical supplies donated by 19 healthcare and pharmaceutical companies in Canada.

Officials from Food For The Poor Haiti will personally meet the plane at Port-au-Prince’s Airport. HPIC has been working with Food For The Poor as an implementing partner in Haiti for 7 years.

To date, HPIC has received enough donated medicine to treat an estimated 65,000 Haitians. The donated medicine is in response to identified needs, including for primary care and for the cholera epidemic.

Donors of medicine and medical supplies to Haiti relief projects:

Fresenius Kabi Canada Ltd.
Henry Schein
Johnson & Johnson
LEO Pharma Canada
Patterson Dental
Sun Pharma
Teva Canada Limited
Vita Health

Oct. 19 Haiti medical relief update

A medical team left Toronto on Monday with Haiti medical relief . Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) has equipped them with enough medicines to treat an estimated 1,500 people.

Donate now to HPIC’s Haiti medical relief projects

Another medical team will be leaving B.C. Nov. 1 for a two-week mission to Haiti. They will be equipped with a Humanitarian Medical Kit for primary care and another kit for Mother-Child Health, enabling them to treat about 400 people.

Pharma industry mobilized

Meanwhile HPIC’s mobilization of medical aid from Canada’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industry continues. To date, HPIC has received $1.5 million in donated medicines and medical supplies for Haiti relief from members of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Consumer Health Products Canada, and Innovative Medicines Canada as well as independent companies.

“We are grateful to our Canadian pharmaceutical and healthcare industry for making this compassionate response from Canada possible,” says Denis St-Amour, HPIC’s President.  “The scale of this humanitarian crisis is huge and our partners tell us it will take months of relief work.”

Food For The Poor: HPIC’s on-the-ground partner

HPIC on-the-ground partner Food For The Poor has arranged an airlift leaving from Montreal Nov. 15. Skids of medicines and supplies, to address the cholera danger and other health problems, will be loaded onto that plane.

Food For The Poor reports that “cholera, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms are spreading as desperate people share close quarters with family and friends amid poor sanitary conditions which facilitates the transmission of disease.”

HPIC continues to appeal for emergency funding to help fund this emergency response and help us do more. Every $1 donated to HPIC delivers at least $10 of medicine to a community in need.

Donate now to HPIC’s Haiti medical relief projects

Donors of medicine and medical supplies to HPIC’s Haiti relief projects:

Henry Schein
Johnson & Johnson
LEO Pharma Canada
Patterson Dental
Vita Health


Haiti lies in ruin and cholera threatens even more lives

Haiti situation update- Oct. 12 2016

Donate to Haiti relief efforts

The entire country of Haiti is damaged from deadly Hurricane Matthew’s blow, but the western edge of Haiti was devastated. The towns of Les Cayes, Port Salut and Jérémie have whole blocks that are rubble.

And now cholera is threatening even more lives. Haiti was suffering from a cholera epidemic even before the hurricane. More than 10,000 people have died from cholera since the 2010 earthquake. Now natural water sources are contaminated by storm water and sewage overflow.

$1 million worth of medicines and medical supplies  needed in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew have been offered to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) and more offers continue to arrive daily. These medicines are being donated by pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in Canada.

“This is very encouraging because we currently have a shortage of medicines at our Oakville distribution centre following some relief projects for Syrian refugees,” says Denis St-Amour, President of HPIC. “Over 26 years of operation, we know that when emergencies strike vulnerable populations, the Canadian industry rallies to the international call to help.”

Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti Oct. 4, 2016. The Category 4 hurricane was the most powerful storm in the Caribbean in the last decade.

“Some towns and villages have been almost wiped off the map,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The secretary general called for a massive international response to prevent more deaths in Haiti.

HPIC has several implementing program partners on the ground and will be mobilizing emergency medical relief in the weeks to come.

Food For The Poor, a partner agency, says “the death toll in Haiti continues to rise and Haitian officials are estimating that at least 350,000 people need assistance, with 28,000 homes damaged.”

To date, AstraZeneca, Henry Schein, Johnson & Johnson, LEO Pharma Canada, Paladin, Patterson Dental, Pfizer, Pharmascience and Taro have donated or committed to donating needed medical aid to HPIC’s Hurricane relief project.

Donate to Haiti relief efforts

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: https://youtu.be/X2B4zK7oywc

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. www.hpicanada.ca/donate


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