Project HOPE Team Responds to Urgent Health Needs as Venezuelans Flee

Millwood, VA, Sept. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Project HOPE announced today that it is deploying an emergency response team to address an exodus of people fleeing political turmoil and an economic collapse in Venezuela that have contributed to the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere and created dangerous health conditions.

The Virginia-based international medical NGO is sending a team to Cúcuta, Colombia -- one of the areas near the border with Venezuela that is experiencing an influx of displaced people. Three million people are expected to have left Venezuela by next year. Displaced people are trying to escape a society hampered by extreme hyperinflation and severe shortages of food and medicine that have degraded the health care system.

“Health care, food and nutrition assistance, vaccines and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) support are among the most urgent humanitarian needs of Venezuelans, returnees and host communities in border regions,” said Chris Skopec, Project HOPE Executive Vice President, responsible for Global Health and Disaster Response Programs.

Project HOPE’s team will be in place Friday. The team aims to strengthen the supply chain management and human resource capacity of medical facilities, improve health outreach services and referrals between health facilities and communities to facilitate improved health care services for those affected by the current crisis. 

The city of Cúcuta has one of the highest rates of displaced Venezuelans. Hospital administrators and staff have reported a severe lack of equipment, supplies and trained health workers who are able to address the health needs of the growing number of referral patients.

“Hospitals and local health workers are highly dedicated but under increasing strain and their capacity to provide care is limited by the burden posed by the growing health needs of the displaced population. And the exponential increase in direct referrals among new patients coming across the border has complicated the situation further,” said Skopec.

Health officials say there is an urgent need for vaccination services and treatment for infectious diseases.  They say there’s an increase in the number of cases of infectious diseases, including measles, especially among the most vulnerable – women and children. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Cúcuta Department of Health have requested additional nurses trained in vaccination to establish fixed and mobile vaccination points at all border entry points and to support a national vaccination campaign for infants 6 to 11 months old.

About Project HOPE

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is a leader in global health and humanitarian relief programs. An international nonprofit organization, we are committed to transforming lives and uplifting communities by empowering health care workers to teach and deliver innovative, lifesaving solutions, every day and in times of crisis.  With programs in more than 26 countries, we work at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges including infectious and noncommunicable diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal, and child health; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. Learn more at



CONTACT: Geraldine Carroll
Project HOPE