Research-based global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie will donate $100 million to two organizations, Direct Relief and Habitat for Humanity International, to strengthen access to healthcare and housing in Puerto Rico.
The company confirmed the organizations will receive $50 million each. This donation is an extension of the more than $4 million AbbVie provided following the unprecedented natural disasters of 2017.
“AbbVie has a longstanding commitment to the people of Puerto Rico, having operated on the island for nearly 50 years,” said Richard A. González, chairman of AbbVie.
“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,” said González, who is also CEO of the company.
“We deeply appreciate the hard work of our employees, and all the people of Puerto Rico, and we hope today’s announcement will deepen and strengthen our long relationship,” he said.
“Together with Direct Relief and Habitat for Humanity, we will build a stronger health care infrastructure and contribute meaningfully to the rebuilding of homes,” the executive said during the announcement made at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.
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.
Direct Relief will support more than 60 community health centers and local healthcare facilities during a three-year period. These facilities care for a combined 352,000 resident across Puerto Rico.
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.
“With this important contribution 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,” said Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
“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,” Rosselló said.
In Hurricane Maria’s immediate aftermath last September, Direct Relief began fielding urgent requests for medical supplies from across the island and was able to move quickly based on its longstanding support of Puerto Rico’s health centers.
In the months since, Direct Relief has been 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 across the island.
“Hurricane María inflicted unprecedented pain on the people of Puerto Rico, and AbbVie’s unprecedented commitment to help them is a privilege for Direct Relief to be part of,” said Direct Relief President Thomas Tighe.
“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,” Tighe said.
Meanwhile, over the next five years, Habitat for Humanity 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.
Habitat expects to directly assist 13,000 people through 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.
“AbbVie’s generous donation will help Habitat for Humanity as we work with many Puerto Ricans whose homes and communities were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and María,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International. “Habitat has a long history of helping communities recover after major disasters.”
“We are committed to working alongside the people of Puerto Rico to increase access to safe, decent and affordable shelter on the island and to address longstanding and persistent housing issues and challenges that were exacerbated by the storms,” Reckford said.
“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,” he added.
Habitat for Humanity has been building and repairing homes in Puerto Rico since 1997. Weeks after Hurricane María made landfall, Habitat assembled and shipped 2,000 shelter repair kits to the island.
In partnership with Save the Children, Habitat distributed kits to families in Caguas, Santa Isabel, Coamo, Arroyo, Guayama, Salinas, Patillas, Orocovis, Loíza, Humacao and Vieques to make immediate repairs to their damaged homes. Habitat also distributed 2,000 solar kits for families that lacked access to electricity.