Global NGO Project HOPE Honors Two Decade Legacy of Department of State Humanitarian Airlift "1,000" with a Final Airlift of Meds Mission for Tajikistan

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MILLWOOD, Va., May 14, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Officials from the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan gathered at Project HOPE's Virginia headquarters today to commemorate the 1000th and final Department of State-funded humanitarian airlift destined for Tajikistan under Operation Provide Hope. The global NGO, Project HOPE, honored the lifesaving legacy of the humanitarian program's two-decade long airlift of medicines, medical supplies, and disaster relief items to Tajikistan and other post-Soviet states.

Since 1992, Operation Provide Hope , the Department of State, Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia, has delivered more than $5 billion in targeted humanitarian aid to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization has partnered with the Department of State and global pharmaceutical companies which have donated millions of dollars in lifesaving medicines for underserved communities.

"The Department of State has played a critically-important role in addressing the health needs of millions of people who were faced with tough challenges, as they transitioned to free-market states after the fall of the Soviet Union," said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.

HOPE's corporate partners in the global pharmaceutical and medical supply industries donated high value medicines to fill hundreds of transport planes over the past two decades, at the request of health officials in the region and, as a result of outreach efforts by HOPE's field offices, to local hospitals and clinics. The humanitarian supplies were used to treat illnesses such as cancer, infectious diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and skin infections. The medicines were also used to protect patients from post-operative infections and to support national vaccine campaigns and disaster relief efforts.

"I wholeheartedly believe that the successful collaboration between Project HOPE and health authorities in the post-Soviet states, the Department of State and our corporate partners has saved countless lives and improved the ability of hospitals and clinics to care for the most vulnerable in the region who otherwise would not have had access to these medicines and supplies," said Dr. Howe.

The officials gathered at Project HOPE's warehouse in Winchester, VA, where staff were packing the final shipment of medicines valued at USD$ 29 million for the final airlift, which will depart for the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, around May 15.

"Operation Provide Hope has been an important humanitarian initiative for the Department of State to strengthen the health of communities in the post-Soviet states through a funded private/public partnership that assists non-profit organizations to deliver medical assistance directly to patients and health facilities in these countries," said Jerry Oberndorfer, Director of Humanitarian Program , Department of State.

The Tajik Ambassador to the U.S., Nuriddin Shamsov, praised the U.S. and the nonprofit organization for strengthening the health infrastructure of his country.

"In Tajikistan, the health needs are substantial and we have benefitted enormously from the generous, long-term efforts of the United States, Project HOPE and the many corporate donors who have improved the standard of care for so many," said Mr. Shamsov.

Dr. Howe praised global pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Inc., Sanofi Pasteur, Pfizer Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Becton Dickinson and Company, Abbott Laboratories and Roche Laboratories for their unwavering commitment to donate medicines and equipment to help millions cope with serious illnesses and enable health professionals to improve the lives of so many.

Mass Biologics, Hospira Inc., Covidien, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, are also among many corporations that provided medicines and equipment over the past two decades.

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, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries.

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CONTACT: Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540.257.3746

Source: Project HOPE