“To help people help themselves…efficiently, effectively…for the long term through sharing medical knowledge with developing countries in a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach.”
Project HOPE – the English stands for ‘Health Opportunities for People Everywhere’ – was the creation of medical doctor, William Walsh, who served on a US naval vessel during World War II and was moved by the poor health conditions he saw among people in the South Pacific. In 1958 he persuaded US President Eisenhower to donate an old US Navy hospital ship, which was re-fitted and renamed ‘SS Hope’. From 1960-1973, this sailed the southern seas with a team of American doctors and nurses aboard, putting in at ports in developing countries to provide medical services and ‘teach while healing.’ Since 1974, when the ship made her last voyage, Project HOPE has pursued its founder’s mission by supporting the provision of medical facilities and training facilities on land; and it has established subsidiary organisations in Germany, Japan, the UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
In China, Project HOPE worked for many years to raise USD 22 million in cash and kind contributions to build and equip a major paediatric hospital, the Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre, which opened in 1998 and includes state-of-the-art facilities for treating heart disease.
HOPE has since worked with the Ministry of Public Health and a wide network of medical universities and hospitals to provide medical training for Chinese health professionals. Examples include a preventive dental care and nursing programme with teaching hospitals affiliated to Wuhan University, a national Diabetes Training Programme, and an initiative to train physicians to recognise and treat Gaucher disease, a rare illness associated with inherited enzyme deficiency.
From 2011 – 2012, Project HOPE, in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Eli Lilly and Company, successfully completed a one-year pilot program in China to raise awareness about unsafe medicines, a large and growing problem in China and throughout the world. Project HOPE’s China Safe Medicine Program was the first NGO-led effort to work with Chinese governmental and professional organizations to educate health care providers and the public about unsafe medicine, i.e. counterfeit medicines, medicines containing no active ingredients, medicines with an insufficient quantity of active ingredients or medicines containing even dangerous ingredients.
Currently HOPE operates 13 programs in China including a health professional rehabilitative training program for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, diabetes program, children's nutrition program, nursing training and more.