The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded ten grants worth over $12 million to Puerto Rico.
These grants include:
- $7 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences (PSM) and Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida to help cancer patients who live in Puerto Rico. The PSM-Moffitt partnership is the primary source of care for cancer patients in South and Central Puerto Rico.
- $4.4 million to three universities to provide scholarships to disadvantaged students studying to enter health professionals ($2.56 million for the University of Turabo, $1.3 for the Universidad Metropolitana, and $541,000 for Carlos Alvizu University).
- $500,000 to the Migrant Health Center in Mayaguez to help combat substance abuse.
- $100,000 to the Puerto Rico Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs to improve the quality of life for the elderly and their caregivers.
When Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D) announced the new funding, he explained in detail the special significance of the grant to enhance the PSM-Moffitt partnership:
“PSM and Moffitt, with the help of NCI funding, have established a research, training and community outreach program that is tailored to the specific needs of Hispanic cancer patients living in Puerto Rico and Florida, who have generally been underserved when it comes to quality of care, personalized medicine, and participation in clinical research trials. Notably, the PSM-Moffitt partnership has the potential to help Puerto Rico recruit and retain highly-qualified cancer researchers, of which there is currently a significant shortage on the Island. The partnership has already created jobs in the specialized areas of research and community outreach in southern Puerto Rico.”
Initiatives such as the PSM-Moffitt partnership – and the federal funding made possible through this initiative – demonstrate the benefits of Puerto Rico’s affiliation with the United States. Patients and resources can move freely within the partnership, unencumbered by legal constraints and payment issues that would complicate a similar relationship between hospitals in two separate nations. The state-based component of this relationship – the Florida hospital – was likely to have been especially helpful in obtaining the generous NCI funding. Lacking full representation in the U.S. government, the territory of Puerto Rico faces extra burdens when it comes to getting its voice heard.
The success of the PSM-Moffitt partnership demonstrates that when two strong entities combine, their outcomes are greater than the sum of their parts.