I had an incredible week working with the Project HOPE team in Macedonia and Kosovo. The years of civil war have made it extremely difficult for the Ministries of Health in those countries to stretch their resources to provide the health care that their citizens desperately need. In recent years many NGOs have pulled resources out of the Balkans but patients are still in need of 21st century care.
We visited 4 health care facilities in Skopje, Macedonia including The Special Hospital for Psychiatry – Skopje built in the early 1950s when Macedonia was part of communist Yugoslavia. Because of Project HOPE’s donations important improvements have been made to the facilities for this normally neglected patient population.
Our Kosovo visit included General Hospital Ferizaj and The University Clinical Center. All pharmacy administrators were very anxious for us to see how they carefully tract Project HOPE donations.
In both countries every health care administrator, clinician and Ministry of Health representative expressed gratitude for Project HOPE’s Strategic Medical Resupply Program (SMRP) and its donors. They were also open to discuss the next phase of partnership with Project HOPE. Perhaps more medical staff training, more patient education among other ideas were shared.
While in Skopje, I had the opportunity to meet with GSK’s Macedonian Team (AWESOME GROUP) to discuss the PULSE Program and the prospect of additional collaboration with Project HOPE on unbranded disease awareness materials.
Finally, I would like to recognize the extraordinary dedication of the Project HOPE staff based in Macedonia. During my visit members of the team waited in Kosovo away from their families and friends to receive and inventory a shipment of medicines and medical supplies stalled in customs. After calls from the Kosovo Ministry of Health the shipment was finally released on the 3rd day at 11:00pm. The Project HOPE staff never loss focus, it was about doing whatever was necessary to get the medicines and other medical supplies to the Kosovo health facilities and the patients who needed them.
I will always be grateful to the Project HOPE staff in Macedonia for their warmth and generosity and for sharing information about Macedonia’s culture and extraordinary history. I am also grateful for their dedication to the patients in Macedonia and Kosovo, I found their work truly inspiring.