Millwood, VA (PRWEB) July 16, 2012
Global NGO Project HOPE has assisted more than 11,000 patients in the first weeks of a medical humanitarian mission to Peru in its first collaboration with the U.S. military’s 12th Air Force out of Southern Command .
The annual mission, known as New Horizons, takes place in Latin America and the Caribbean and is a unique training exercise for U.S. military medical personnel, while providing critical care to thousands in need of medical services.
HOPE volunteers will provide medical services in 11 locations in Peru over a six-week period to as many as 20,000 people.
A devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck central Peru in 2007, killing over 500 people and injuring thousands. Several years on, the effects of the earthquake are still evident as rubble still lines the streets in places, and communities are slowly rebuilding.
The mission will involve clinical services in pediatrics, OB/GYN, general medicine, and optical and dental services. Additionally, New Horizons' goal to help prepare for future disasters and establishing positive relationships with the local population by offering medical care is an important, first step in this process.
Project HOPE volunteer, Melissa Alvarez, a nurse practitioner student from Florida International University in Miami and a first-time Project HOPE volunteer, said among the most complex cases she has seen so far is that of 13-year-old Chufu, who suffers from an autoimmune disease that causes a serious rash on his face. Chufu has painful lesions and skin damage and his eyes are badly damaged and milky white. Chufu had been ostracized by his community due to his appearance and people’s misperceptions about his condition. He was taken out of school and sent to live with his grandmother, isolated from his community.
At the New Horizons medical site in San Clemente, the dermatology staff treated Chufu’s condition and educated his family about his condition. They soon had a better understanding of his medical issues and were more willing to care for Chufu. His long-term medical and social issues are being addressed as well.
“It’s amazing to see how health education goes such a long way; just explaining his illness to the family turned everything around [for Chufu],” said Alvarez.
HOPE volunteer, Dr. Lee Morris, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric infectious disease, had previously studied Spanish in the country as a medical student and decided to return to Peru with Project HOPE to give back to the community.
“This is my first time with Project HOPE, and I have had a really good experience collaborating with the Air Force. It’s also been wonderful to work with the families here. They are so appreciative and really wonderful people,” Dr. Morris said.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, and conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries.