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Archive for December, 2009

By Ami Panara

Today we served as clinicians at the mobile clinics in the central plateau of Haiti. Our day started off with a nice surprise by the short, but still very scenic, ride to Elin. It’s true, in Haiti there are mountains after mountains. I feel as if the countryside is like a hidden secret of Haiti that is buried under the darkness that is usually associated with the nation.

When we reached there we were also surprised, and frankly I was a little disappointed, by the small number of patients. Still they were very excited to see us and were so close that they were standing up against each other in a single file line to register. I was on the pre-natal team and the pregnant women in the crowd were sparse, but we saw seven women and luckily were able to report that they were all in good health. As a team we worked very well and we all got a chance to learn how to examine the soon-to-be mothers. Dr. Fournier is a great teacher and with his guidance I was able to feel the head of a fetus for the first time. It was great. Since there weren’t enough patients we piggy-backed on each other and taught each other how to do the exams and write the prescriptions.

For our last patient, it was my job to take care of the mother’s first child, a 14 month old baby, while the mother was getting examined. The baby was a cute girl dressed in a white dress. At first she stayed calm but then she saw her mom she kept crying. It was frustrating to have to keep her away from her mom for a long time but at the same time I didn’t want to give her back to her mom when she was done. Even though she cried so much, being in charge of her was more touching than seeing any normal patient.

By this time we had realized that our initial assumptions about the day were wrong because the number of patients kept increasing and so we quickly set up a station in the pediatric room and started seeing children.

At first I was a little hesitant but after seeing the other students take charge and actively start seeing the patients I realized that even with the language barrier there is so much that we can do. Even the smallest thing such as the de-worming or putting lotion on a child can make the biggest difference. Even though there isn’t much that I can say to them I felt like there were always a hundred thoughts going on in my head, from wondering how the patient feels, to the chemistry of the drugs we were prescribing, to the long list of things I felt like I needed to improve on and wanted to learn. I can’t believe that less than a week ago I was staying up cramming for tests and now I was seeing the conditions we learned about and either could not remember or did not learn about the important clinical issues. This was very frustrating and made me a little angry but I know I will not forget the things that I saw while here and will remember these conditions and at the same time will remember Haiti.

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By David Serota

Today was our first proper heath fair, in the impossibly remote town of Baille Tourrible, and it was a day I will remember forever.

After a hearty breakfast of mais Moulin we packed into trucks and traversed a 2.5 hour mountain road to the health fair location. I did not know cars existed that could drive over such extremely rocky, steep terrain. With sore necks and stiff legs we were greeted in the beautifully quaint Baille Tourrible by hundreds of people waiting patiently in an organized line to be registered by the Health Agents. I was consistently impressed with the patience and cheerfulness of the patients, most of whom had waited months and traveled hours by foot for a meager few minutes to state their case in front of a doctor.

After a day where we saw over 200 patients in less than six hours, I cannot stress enough the incredible compassion, dedication, and understanding of the doctors and medical students for each and every person they interacted with. With just a few minutes before we had to pack up and get home before sundown, a very beautiful and young woman came up to Dr. Augustin and I at the adult medicine station. Her main complaint was fever but our first observation was a large pregnant-looking belly. When questioned, she replied that she was not pregnant and had gotten her last period a few weeks before. Upon interacting with her for just a minute, we noticed something different in her than any other patient today. No matter how ill all of our other patients were, they all beamed with life, energy, and smiles. This woman was completely emotionally flat and undeniably depressed. She could not open her mouth very far, but shining a light in, we saw thrush on her tongue, a strong indicator of HIV infection that has already progressed to AIDS. While most patients were content with being told a diagnosis and given a treatment plan, it was clear that this patient would walk away neither happy nor cured.

Her depression was not unfounded. Haitians know as well as physicians that oral thrush strongly suggests HIV infection, and infected patients are highly stigmatized. While this was surely the saddest case I saw today, the attentiveness and care provided by Dr. Augustin was equally inspiring. He took her aside and inquired more about whether or not she was sexually active, also asking again if she was pregnant (which seemed likely). He spoke to her as an equal, never speaking down to her like many of the physicians I’ve seen in the US.

This was a patient that we could not cure, and that we could not even prescribe medicine to, but the doctor still took the time, under an immense time-crunch, to listen to her. I learned that even in a situation where we want to identify problems and administer fixes as fast as possible, it is perhaps even more important that we provide an ear to listen to problems that nobody else will listen to. Even though we didn’t permanently fix many of the problems we saw today, we gave people the confidence and assurance that their problems were important and that they could live a productive, happy life.

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By Jennifer Browning

The end of the year is near, but there is still time to make your tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, $100 or more to Project Medishare. This has been another successful year for Project Medishare and those we serve in Haiti’s Central Plateau. We have been thankful that mother nature gave some reprieve and helped Haiti avoid season devastated by hurricanes.

The Akamil Facility in Thomonde is scheduled to begin operation in January.

With the weather cooperating, Project Medishare is happy to announce the finalized construction of the Akamil Facility in Thomonde! For many years, our local staff of 95 people from Thomonde, Marmont and Casse provide urgently needed healthcare to their communities. These dedicated workers provide the only primary healthcare to 85,000 people–despite the lack of adequate facilities and difficult working conditions.

The new Akamil Facility will allow Project Medishare to do so much more. We’re ready to combat childhood malnutrition affecting more than 50 percent of children in these communities. With the facility beginning operation in January, the locally produced, highly nutritious meal called Akamil will begin opening doors in Thomonde not only in the fight against malnutrition, but in the economic welfare of the community. We are so thankful to the Caporella Family, the Berlin Family Foundation, Coral Gables Congregational Church, UM Rotaract Club, South Florida Rotary Clubs and Rotary International, Center for Disease Control, Auto Gov, AkzoNobel, DSM and donors like you who are making the opening of this facility a reality.

In addition to the Akamil Facility, Project Medishare accomplished much more in 2009.

  • Our community health agents provided over 10,000 home visits and held over 430 “rally posts” where children were monitored for signs of malnutrition and received vaccinations.
  • We renovated the Ministry of Health clinic in Marmont, expanding our services to more than 15,700 people.
  • We completed construction of the Maternal Health Center in Marmont, thanks to the Greig Family.
  • Our agronomist provided training to local farmers and women at our trial

    Agriculture is a major component of Project Medishare's plan in helping battle malnutrition in Haiti's Central Plateau. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

    farm and in the community and established five vegetable nurseries in the nearby surrounding communities of Cadichon, Savane Moise, Calabate and Savane Longue.

None of this could have been accomplished without the support of the friends, donors, and volunteers who have embraced Project Medishare’s mission in Haiti’s Central Plateau–to provide and achieve quality healthcare and development services for all.

But we cannot rest. Looking ahead Project Medishare urgently needs  help to:

  • Prepare to provide 5,000 children with oral rehydration solution to treat diarrhea, which still needlessly kills countless children in Haiti. (Project Medishare treated more than 2,000 last year for worms and other illnesses associated with poverty and lack of clean water, but the need has outpaced our current efforts.)
  • Expand the pediatric neurosurgery program from two to four trips this year – Last year we evaluated over 100 children and operated on 45 – most being life-saving surgeries. But many didn’t get the attention they needed. We must do better in the coming year.
  • Provide equipment and medical supplies to the new Maternal Health Center in Marmont.
  • Continue to expand the sustainable agricultural training program between Marmont and Thomonde. In addition to these important projects, we need funds to repair a water cistern in Marmont, so there will be access to safe drinking water.

Project Medishare is still in need of donations to continue this important work in Haiti. Eighty-five percent of your donated dollar goes to directly to programs and services of our organization, so your donated dollar goes a long way.

So during this holiday season, please remember Project Medishare and the people of Haiti’s Central Plateau and then click here to give the most generous tax-deductible contribution you can to help us continue our life-saving work.

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By Tynisa Harvey**

It’s only been two days in Haiti, and already I feel like the people here are my own. On our way to our home visits, we were greeted with smiles and friendly ‘Bonjours’ from natives, young and old. It is refreshing to be in a place where you greet people that don’t respond with a blank stare or a silent nod. I took full advantage of this, and it may sound cheesy, but I said ‘Bonjour’ to EVERYONE I met, literally! Besides I really wanted to practice my creole.

Our first visit took us to a modest little house on a hill, and shouts of ‘honour’ were met with ‘respet’. I came to understand that this was the customary way of entering someone’s home, so your call followed by their response meant you were welcome in their home. Although we made several home visits, there was one that left a lasting impression. We met a woman that may have been about 25 years old, and she was nine months pregnant. She was dressed in a very pretty blue and white floral dress, and sat on a hand woven wooden stool. She appeared well, but went on to tell us she was very weak and that she had anemia. She had received a blood transfusion recently and was being closely monitored by her health agent.

Medishare has set up a health care system in which 85 health agents are assigned to one thousand people. This method not only ensures that every person has an opportunity for medical care, but also that those who receive care are closely monitored and managed. We checked her vital signs, pulmonary and cardiac function to make sure she was healthy by those parameters, and then communicated our findings to the health agent. Our job was done and it was on to the next patient. This was an important experience for me because I felt good knowing that she was getting the care that she needed especially since she was pregnant.

Project Medishare is responsible for making health care a right and not a privilege in countries such as Haiti, and is to be highly commended for its humanitarian efforts.

I look forward to the days that are ahead. Over the next few days we will open our mobile clinic and hope to see people turn out in their numbers. I am proud, and at the same time, humbled by this entire experience and can’t wait to help this movement continue to change lives, and the world at large.

**University of Miami Miller School of Medicine students and doctors visited Haiti between December 20-24. The group worked with Project Medishare’s Haitian medical staff in Thomonde and the surrounding Central Plateau.

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By Jennifer Browning

Between now and midnight, each new person who joins iGive using this link right here and does just one web search on the iGive site Project Medishare will receive a dollar.

Join iGive between today and noon tomorrow, conduct one search on iGive and Project Medishare receives one dollar.

Join iGive between today and noon tomorrow, conduct one search on iGive and Project Medishare receives one dollar.

Just think, 5,000 sign ups and a search gives Project Medishare $5,000. While there is no purchase necessary, if you search more or buy something through one of the many participating stores, Project Medishare earns more.

Right now, iGive donates $.02 per search and offers a $5 bonus for the first purchase plus the usual percentage the participating merchant offers.

Click here to become a member of iGive, make one search and earn Project Medishare one dollar. One dollar goes a long way in Haiti.

Tell your friends to do the same. It is a free and easy way to raise a little money for Project Medishare and the people we serve in Haiti.

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By Jennifer Browning

Two grants approved by the World Bank Board of Directors totalling $24.5 million will go to support Haiti’s economic governance reform agenda and rehabilitation of key roads and bridges.

The first grant for the Third Economic Governance Reform Operation (EGRO III) for $12.5 million seeks to improve the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of public sector institutions by consolidating economic governance reforms and strengthening core institutions.

A second grant approved today provides $12 million of additional funding for the Transport and Territorial Development Project, which will replenish the project for road and bridge reconstruction undertaken following the hurricanes and tropical storms that struck Haiti in 2007 and 2008. The grant will also cover additional costs related to the road rehabilitation works.

Read more.

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By Jennifer Browning

From now until December 11, each time you give $25 or more to Project Medishare, a holiday greeting will be mailed to the person of your choice. Give $50–send a greeting to two friends. Give $100, Project Medishare will send a greeting to four people of your choice.

And as always, your gift is tax-deductible.

When your friend, family, colleague and/or loved one receives their greeting they will know that you gave a gift in their honor in an effort to combat malnutrition in Haiti’s Central Plateau…..a place where every gift, no matter how great or small, is always appreciated.

To ensure your greeting arrives in a timely manner, Project Medishare must receive your tax-deductible gift by Friday, December 11.

Click here to give $25, $50, $75, $100 or more. Once you have donated, email Jennifer Browning (jbrowning@projectmedishare.org) with the addresses of those you are honoring so they may receive their special holiday greeting.

Thank you again, and Happy Holidays from Project Medishare and the people of Haiti’s Central Plateau.

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