AbbVie donates $100 million toward healthcare, housing in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Chicago-based biopharmaceutical company AbbVie announced a $100 million donation Tuesday to two nonprofits to “strengthen access” to healthcare and housing in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Direct Relief, a medical aid provider, and Christian housing charity Habitat for Humanity International will receive $50 million each.
“AbbVie has a longstanding commitment to the people of Puerto Rico, having operated on the island for nearly 50 years. Last year’s hurricanes were devastating, but we are proud that — thanks to the sacrifices made by our colleagues in Puerto Rico — our operations were not disrupted and patients relying on our treatments could continue to receive them,” Richard González, AbbVie’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release.
The company explained that with the donation Direct Relief will “help rebuild and strengthen Puerto Rico’s primary healthcare system, better preparing it to withstand future hurricanes and outages of power or water” by supporting for three years “more than 60 community health centers and local healthcare facilities” that provide care “for a combined 352,000” people.
“To prevent interruptions in care, Direct Relief will provide the health centers with reliable energy sources including solar power, battery storage and generators, giving them the ability to produce their own clean water supplies. Direct Relief will also fund mobile health units, train and support an expanded medical workforce, increase access to a reliable supply of medicines, and institute telemedicine programs at select hospitals and health centers,” the release reads.
It adds that since Hurricane Maria struck the island, Direct Relief has become the “largest non-governmental donor of charitable medical resources to Puerto Rico, providing more than 247 tons of requested medicine and medical supplies to 61 healthcare facilities….”
The company’s published announcement quoted Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe as saying, “AbbVie’s extraordinary support will be invested in the critically important work of community health centers in Puerto Rico, which serve residents who otherwise lack access to essential primary healthcare and referral services that are needed more than ever.”
As for Habitat for Humanity, AbbVie explained it “will partner directly with hurricane-affected families to address their shelter needs, as well as work toward policies and systems that will improve shelter, land and resilience issues across the island” over the next five years.
Through Habitat’s efforts, some 13,000 people are expected to be assisted with “repairs, new construction, workforce training and assistance with clear property titles. Through its work to effect policy and systems reforms, Habitat also expects to make significant progress in aiding many of the estimated 1.3 million Puerto Ricans who live in housing that was built without clear title or proper permits. Those residents face significant barriers to construction and repairs as well as assistance from other sources of aid. Based on Habitat’s damage assessments and input from municipalities, efforts will begin in the greater San Juan area, followed by the southern part of the island and then the east,” according to the release.
“We look forward to working with the Puerto Rican government and local municipalities to develop long-term housing solutions that will help families gain clear title to their land, while also helping grow and improve the construction sector to offer improved construction methods and training for the rebuilding process,” Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, said for the release.
Habitat “assembled and shipped 2,000 shelter repair kits to the island,” which were distributed in partnership with Save the Children charity, shortly after Maria hit. It also provided “2,000 solar kits for families that lacked access to electricity” to families in several island towns.
AbbVie said its new donation is the “first part of its commitment to make an additional $350 million in charitable contributions to U.S. not-for-profit organizations in 2018.”
“With this important contribution today by AbbVie — with aid that goes directly to health and housing, two priorities in our Administration — the company proves to be an example of what a private sector committed to the community should be. After the hurricanes passed through our region, AbbVie collaborated with us in the reconstruction of the Island. After 50 years in Puerto Rico, we are grateful that they continue to be available as a workplace for the Puerto Rican working class,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló adds in the release.
The announced donation is an extension of the more than $4 million AbbVie provided following last year’s natural disasters.