Project HOPE Disaster Response Team in Ecuador to Identify Medical Needs in Aftermath of Deadly Earthquake

MILLWOOD, Va., April 22, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Project HOPE, the global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, announced today that its disaster response team is on the ground in Ecuador following the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country's central coast on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Aftershocks over the past several days, along with the latest reports of 6.0 magnitude quake off the same coastline, have rattled an already shaken nation. With rescue and recovery efforts ongoing, the latest estimates of nearly 600 fatalities and more than 7,000 injuries make this earthquake the deadliest to hit the country in nearly 30 years.

HOPE's Weretaw Behanu, a logistics manager and veteran responder to disasters, Teresa Narvaez, HOPE's country director in the Dominican Republic and a native Ecuadorian, and volunteer emergency nurse, Michele Chapa from Everett, WA, arrived in Ecuador Thursday. The Project HOPE team is coordinating with local officials and other international organizations to identify the most pressing humanitarian needs as assessed by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health. If needed, Project HOPE will deploy additional high priority resources including the shipment and delivery of medical supplies and medicines as well as assembling medical volunteer teams, including surgeons, physicians and nurses, as required.

"Our team is in the region so we can determine firsthand the scope and magnitude of the quake and how we can best assist the Ministry of Health and the people of Ecuador," said Scott Crawford, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Gifts-in-Kind at Project HOPE.

According to Ecuador's government officials and reports, there is significant damage to buildings and roads throughout the affected provinces of Manabí, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Santo Domingo, Los Ríos, and Santa Elena, impacting efforts to reach affected areas and provide critical medical care. There is also the potential risk of survivors being exposed to infection and disease as a result of compromised infrastructure and water systems.

Project HOPE has responded to every major global disaster response effort in recent years providing volunteer medical support, delivery of urgently needed medicines and supplies as well as longer-term health system restoration in disaster zones including the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, and the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015. In fact, HOPE's response in Ecuador comes on the eve of the tragic 2015 earthquake in Nepal, where the Project HOPE team has recently launched a two-year program to help rebuild a sustainable health system for families with little or no access to safe health care.

Project HOPE has a long history in Ecuador beginning with the third voyage of the SS HOPE which visited the country in 1963. At that time, Project HOPE volunteers treated widespread tuberculosis, parasitic diseases and malnutrition and then led a nutrition program for the poverty stricken county working with South American medical counterparts to improve health care for women and children.

More recently, HOPE volunteers aboard the USNS Comfort traveled to Ecuador in May of 2011 as part of the U.S. Navy's Continuing Promise mission. Along with Navy counterparts, HOPE medical volunteers provided health care to more than 5,200 Ecuadorians.

For more information about our efforts in Ecuador and around the world, visit our website at

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 30 countries. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @projecthopeorg

Media Contact
Melanie Mullinax Tel. +1.540.630.1913

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CONTACT: Melanie Mullinax +1.540.630.1913

Source: Project HOPE