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Mil Med. 2006 Oct;171(10 Suppl 1):27-9.

The Project HOPE and USNS Mercy tsunami "experiment".

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Project HOPE, Millwood, VA 22646, USA.


A multifaceted, military-nongovernmental organization, public-private partnership was put together in 30 days to provide intermediate-stage medical support in response to the December 2004 tsunami. More than 200 civilian volunteer physicians, nurses, and medical professionals were recruited, oriented, and logistically supported by Project HOPE, an international nongovernmental organization, to serve aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy off the coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and subsequently in response to the related Nias Island earthquake. This "novel idea" resulted in tertiary care that was otherwise unavailable, expansion of the primary, dental, and optometric care available at the time, and Project HOPE programs on the ground that continue now, well after completion of the Navy mission. Furthermore, many of the members of this volunteer team would not have had the chance to participate as volunteers and would not have had exposure to the U.S. military, for which they have become staunch supporters. The "novel idea" of such a public-private partnership has met with a success that warrants doctrinal review for incorporation, programming, and planning to facilitate such engagement in the future.

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