I had the honor to represent GSK at Project HOPE's Virginia headquarters yesterday to commemorate the 1000th and final US Department of State-funded humanitarian airlift destined for Tajikistan. This shipment of medicines was valued at $29 million, and it will depart for the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in the next few days. The celebration was to honor the two-decade legacy of Project HOPE’s airlifts to help people in Tajikistan and other former Soviet States.
Since 1992, Project HOPE has delivered more than $5 billion in targeted humanitarian aid to this part of the world, with products from almost all the innovative big pharmaceutical companies including GSK.
We have donated medicines worth more than $57 million, enough donations for almost every hospital in Tajikistan to have received some medicine or supplies from us. The medicines included antibiotics to reduce postoperative infections, inhalers for asthma, pills to treat epilepsy, and antiviral medicine given to 250,000 people during a serious flu outbreak. Some of these shipments provided free medicines to treat various cancers or alleviate suffering for those receiving chemotherapy.
Tajikistan has a gross national income of just $880 per capita per year and 47% of the population is considered below the national poverty line so this program is desperately needed. It was an inspiration to sit in the Project HOPE warehouse, surrounded by boxes of high-quality medicines that would not be available without Project HOPE.
As I looked around the room, I was impressed by how collective this effort is. The room was full of representatives from the US State Department and the community of organizations outside of government, all of them striving to do good and help people that they have never met and never will.
This successful collaboration among so many numbers of stakeholders has saved many lives and improved the quality of people’s lives that would otherwise not have had access to these medicines and supplies. Being part of this day was a humbling experience on so many fronts. I am so grateful for the opportunity and will continue to follow the work of Project HOPE for years to come.