How Project HOPE Works

What Project HOPE Does

Six weeks after the 2004 tsunami, one can barely tell where the sea ends and the Banda Aceh shoreline begins.
Six weeks after the 2004 tsunami, one can barely tell where the sea ends and the Banda Aceh shoreline begins.
U.S. Navy/Getty Images

Across the globe, Project HOPE engages with government health officials, non-governmental relief organizations (NGOs), local healthcare workers and community members to provide crucial health resources to some of the world's most vulnerable people, particularly women and children.

Project HOPE concentrates its efforts in five core areas: infectious disease, women and children's health, health professional education, health systems and facilities, and humanitarian assistance. Not every Project HOPE initiative will address each of these core areas: Each project is designed to maximize its effectiveness by targeting the most pressing health issues of a particular region.

Sustainability is a theme that runs throughout all of Project HOPE's international work. The idea is not to simply arrive with a team of doctors, treat only the sickest patients and then rush off to the next country. Project HOPE employees and volunteers target every level of a country's health care system. They treat patients, train doctors, help governments design more effective healthcare infrastructures and draft public health campaigns to educate community members on disease prevention.

One of Project HOPE's most effective long-term strategies is something called the "trainer of trainers" model. The organization believes that one of the best ways to distribute health information into poor rural communities is to train local healthcare workers to become trainers themselves.

As the healthcare workers receive essential training in combating preventable infectious diseases and treating and managing symptoms of chronic ailments, they're also trained in health education techniques. This allows them to go into the communities and train "community health workers" who can be local resources for vital health information.

Since places like Africa are experiencing a drastic doctor shortage -- an estimated 1 million health care workers are needed across the continent -- these community health workers become essential resources for villages without ready access to doctors or hospitals.

In India, where 40 million people suffer from diabetes, Project HOPE launched the multi-million dollar India Diabetes Educator Project. In Asia and the Middle East, there's a focus on educating health professionals, policymakers and NGOs about leading health threats like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, avian influenza, women's cancers and diabetes. Across the board, there's an emphasis on the deadliest, most preventable conditions like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and malnourishment.

In addition to its fieldwork, Project HOPE also publishes the "Health Affairs Journal," one of the leading international health policy journals.

Next, we'll talk about how you can help Project HOPE.