Archive for December, 2010

When Project Medishare community health agents met 16-year-old Ninitte at a local event in Casse last year, she was severely thin and complaining of pain in her chest.

Ninite (second from the left) with her brothers and sisters at their home in Casse. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

One of Project Medishare’s community health nurses took charge and helped her see a doctor at the hospital in Cange. Ninitte was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Ninitte improved seven months later and health agents helped her return home where they monitored her condition several times a week.

We hope that today, just a few hours away from the New Year, that you will click here make your 2010 tax-deductible year-end gift so that our medical staff and health agents can continue to help young girls like Ninitte.

But it is important to know that Project Medishare’s health agents didn’t stop after Ninitte returned home.

Our health agents knew Ninitte’s mother had passed away, and that when she returned home, it would be Ninitte’s sister, Angeline, primarily caring for her. Health agents provided consistent home visits to not only make sure Ninitte’s health continued to improve, but they also worked with Angeline in teaching her how to cook healthy meals for the family.

“It was very helpful to have training in order to teach me how to cook healthy meals,” Angeline said. “Now I can not only help my sister get better, but hopefully help keep our family healthy.”

If you have given already, we thank you for your continued support of our programs, like the Community Health Program, that not only assisted Ninitte in growing healthy again, but also serves over 100,000 people in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

There are less than 24 hours left to make your tax-deductible contribution to Project Medishare this year. If you have not given, please click here to make your year-end contribution online now.

Happy New Year to all of our supporters and their family. Once again, thanks for all of your support you have all provided this year and in years to come.

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Wilfred Messine works for Project Medishare today as a prosthetic technician in training and provides hope to other amputee patients. Photo by Omar Vega.

When Wilfred Messine was fitted with his prosthetic limb in April, he immediately began running and kicking a soccer ball which inspired other amputee patients. Today Wilfred is Project Medishare’s prosthetic technician in training, and he continues to inspire others like him everyday.

As 2010 comes to a close, Wilfred and Project Medishare continue providing inspiration and care to the thousands of amputee patients affected by the earthquake. And now, there are less than 48 hours left to make a year-end tax-deductible gift.

If you haven’t already, please click here to make your year-end contribution online today.

Wilfred provided an inspiration of hope for those amputee patients to be fitted at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare (HBMPM) with their new limb. His message: if you can do this without a leg, imagine what your possibilities are with a prosthetic leg!

Part of Wilfred’s job today is not only to help with the patient’s fitting and physical therapy, but also helps these patients understand what the prosthetic limb means for them.

Wilfred said he loves his work at HBMPM because he is helping Project Medishare change people’s lives.

“What Project Medishare is doing here is helping people start their life again,” Wilfred said. “I talk to the amputee patients and let them know that one day, they can be like me. I tell them that I can walk, I can drive and I have learned to run….there are so many things I can do with my new leg…and that they will be able to do these things one day. I let them know they can have a new life. That if you are an amputee it doesn’t mean your life is over.”

Time is running out to make your tax-deductible contribution to Project Medishare for 2010. If you have already given, we thank you for your continued support of our programs, like the Amputee Rehabilitation Program, that provide hope to so many in Haiti.

If you have not provided your 2010 tax-deductible year-end gift, please click here to give today.

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Our local medical staff and volunteers, along with some of the people we serve would like to send you happy holiday greetings. To view their message click on the video above or click here.

Thank you for all you’ve already done and, in advance, for all you’ll do. Your generosity means the world to the people of Haiti!

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By Jennifer Browning

You may have remembered reading on the Project Medishare Blog about how 9-month old Julisa was toddling across her house and stumbled into a pot of boiling water causing serious burns on her right arm and left hand.

As her burns healed through the years, her right arm became contracted preventing her from being able to fully extend or bend her arm. This made it difficult for Julisa, who turned 12 this year, to perform simple tasks like feeding herself or washing her clothes.

Project Medishare nurse Rosemerline Pierre-Louise providing a home visit for Julisa in June to see how her arm was healing after surgery. Local staff through Project Medishare’s Community Health Program are seeing that those who have surgery at our hospital in Port-au-Prince have follow-up appointments.Photo by Jennifer Browning.

In May Rosemerlin Pierre-Louise, a community health nurse, arranged for Julisa to travel from her home in the Central Plateau to see plastic surgeons volunteering at our trauma and critical care hospital in Port-au-Prince through Project Medishare’s Specialty Surgery Program.

Today Julisa has almost full mobility in her right arm, and Project Medishare was able to help her because of the ongoing efforts and contributions from our supporters and volunteers.

“Before I couldn’t wash myself or feed myself because I couldn’t bend my arm and my left hand was deformed,” Julisa said. “I am happy that the doctors could help me.”

Ersile, Julisa’s mother, used to worry about her daughter’s future, but today she has peace of mind.

“I am happy because I see the improvement for her arm,”Ersile said. “I feel better knowing that if something should happen to me, that Julisa will be able to take care of herself when she gets older. That makes me happy most of all.”

Through complementary services provided by Project Medishare’s programs in both Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau, today Julisa is able to perform basic tasks that her injuries denied her for over a decade.

Earlier this month, Haiti’s Ministry of Health reported that the cholera epidemic has taken over 2200 lives and infected 97,595 since the outbreak surfaced in the central Artibonite River valley in mid-October.

Project Medishare’s local doctors, nurses and health agents continue to battle this deadly disease in the Central Plateau through our community health program and at a Cholera Treatment Center in Mirebalais, which is managed jointly by Project Medishare and Partners in Health.

In addition to the Mirebalais center, Project Medishare is assisting in the cholera effort in the Upper Plateau city of Hinche by providing materials, supplies and technical assistance. The average hospitalization cost for an average patient is around $250. That is about one percent of what it costs here in the U.S. 

During this holiday season, please remember Project Medishare and the people of Haiti. Then please click here to give the most generous tax-deductible contribution you can to help us continue our life-saving work. Your support is critically needed in order for Project Medishare to not only continue providing healthcare, but also continue working to improve the healthcare infrastructure in Haiti.

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By Jennifer Browning

On Friday, Dec. 10 Herold Charles was honored with a TeenNick HALO Award for his valiant effort to help people find loved ones after the Haiti earthquake.

TeenNick awarded Herold with $20,000. Half would go towards his education and the other $10,000 would go to the charity of his choice. Herold decided to split the donation between two non-profits and provide Project Medishare with a $5000 grant.

On January 12, Herold came home from school and started on his homework. Shortly after 6 p.m. a good friend called Herold to see if he had heard about the earthquake in Haiti.

Herold turned on the TV and saw reports of the 7.0 magnitude quake that had devastated his home country.

“My gut told me, oh my gosh, we in the U.S. aren’t ready for an earthquake,” Herold said, “How can Haiti be ready for an earthquake?”

Herold currently lives in Miami, but his family, including his parents, lives in Haiti. Suddenly, Herold felt a panic that so many others felt. Was his family safe?

“I rushed to my neighbors house across the street and asked to borrow her phone card to call home,” “I called many times and my parents didn’t answer, my sisters didn’t pick up. All of the calls either went to voicemail or it rang, rang and rang.”

As Herold, watched the news, he noticed the coverage shift from that of the quake to those who were starting to look for families and loved ones. The next day Herold went into action.

“The day after I began researching what resources were in Haiti and who was there to help,” he said.

After two days of waiting Herold finally heard from his sister and parents and learned that his family had survived. But there were still so many people missing.

Although he had previously deleted his Twitter account just weeks before, Herold opened a new account and went to work.

Through his Twitter account Herold started asking people to send him their phone numbers, names and addresses of their relatives missing in Haiti. Immediately, his phone began ringing.

Ten of Herold’s family and friends between Jacmel and Port-au-Prince began helping him search for the missing. When his Haiti network returned the information, it was up to Herold to return the call to let those in the U.S. know the information about their relatives. Herold said while he didn’t have to deliver bad news often, when he did, it was very difficult.

“That was the hardest part of the whole thing,” Herold said. “I don’t do good when it comes to tragedy. I started getting chills and I would get sick. When they would tell someone is missing or someone had died…the hardest part was to call the family.”

For the next three months, Herold continued to help in Haiti in a variety of ways. Such as helping organized donated food, supplies and other non-perishable items for those suffering in Haiti.

Herold learned about Project Medishare’s work in Haiti through Twitter.

“I heard so much about [Project Medishare] and their work,” he said. “And whenever we had a need for medical need for someone in Haiti, we would contact Medishare.”

While Herold worked with many organizations, he said he chose Project Medishare because of the medical work the organization provided to the people of Haiti.

“What a great way to help out, but by helping an organization doing medical work in Haiti,” Herold said. “Besides food and water, people in Haiti really need medical help.”

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By Jennifer Browning

The final pieces are being put in place to finalize the Akamil Production Facility in Thomonde. Ground breaking began June 2007 for the construction of the facility, but construction and final equipment installment was delayed after the January 12 earthquake. When production begins, it will mean so much to rural Haiti and those Project Medishare serves in the commune of Thomonde.

DSM's Marienella Mendez, Project Medishare's Laurene Leger, and CDC's Mike Kaiser in front of the Akamil Production Facility in Thomonde. “ I am really surprised and I am really amazed at the job Project Medishare is doing here. Medishare is motivating Haitians to do things by themselves.With this project you involve the local community, the international community and private industry all together in a project that has sustainability,” Mendez said. “It is difficult to find projects like this that involves the entire community.”

Three years ago Center for Disease Control (CDC) Senior Fellow Mike Kaiser met with then Project Medishare Executive Director Ellen Powers and began brainstorming about producing Akamil, a fortified nutritious supplement created by locally grown ingredients. Since then, with the combined support of Project Medishare President Dr. Barth A. Green, Co-founder Dr. Arthur Fournier, Country Director Marie Chery along with numerous supporters, the production facility became more and more of a viable reality. Today, Kaiser and Chery are putting the final touches to the plan.

The CDC’s role in the project is to research and document whether the Akamil project is successful or not.

Kaiser said the Akamil Production Facility is a great grassroots effort and supports Project Medishare’s mission in the Central Plateau.

“It has the value of creating jobs for the farmers……and you are going to fortify something they like to eat, instead of something you are trying to make them eat,” Kaiser said. “[Akamil] is an indigenous food that [the people] already like and know.”

Akamil when mixed becomes a porridge that people can mix sugar and fruit with in the morning or can mix with salt, vegetables and meat in the evening.

“It becomes a staple food that can be fully nutritious, but the full-circle idea is that you are creating jobs for the farmers to then grow the crops and they now know that someone will purchase the crops if they grow more than what they need for just themselves,” Kaiser said. “The Akamil plant can buy it from them.”

To help make the Akamil project successful, the University of Florida provided technical assistance through Project Medishare’s agriculture extention agents by providing training at Project Medishare’s demonstration farm and local farms around the community.

But Kaiser pointed out that it isn’t just the community farmers who benefit from Akamil. Women in the community, benefit as well.

“The other part is that you are creating jobs in the factory, creating jobs in the sale and distribution of the product,” he said. “We’ve talked about microlending with women—creating opportunities for women, which is a real big deal in Haiti, because right now the women don’t have the rights and the respectability that they deserve.”

Kaiser added not only will Akamil benefit the community Project Medishare serves, but more importantly, that same community fully supports the project.

“The enthusiasm that has been generated locally is incredible,” Kaiser said. “This is all being done locally.”

The sale of Akamil doesn’t stop in the commune of Thomonde.

“The international community has said they will purchase Akamil to use in school feeding programs,” Kaiser said, “and thanks to all the donors who have contributed to this project, there is no overhead and the plant will be able to produce and sell the product at cost as a not-for-profit enterprise.”

One of those contributors is DSM who has donated the vitamin-fortified pre-mix for the Akamil product.

The pre-mix for Akamil contains Vitamin A and B complex (Thiamin B2, b12), Iron and Zinc making it a complete formula that can be consumed by the whole family from children to adults. Iron and zinc helps with anemia as well as the immuno process, and additionally these nutrients help to improve the growth rate in children.

DSM manager Marienella Mendez said her company became involved with Medishare through AzkoNobel, a supplier of iron. AkzoNobel contacted DSM and asked to assist Project Medishare with the vitamin supply and pre-mix.

But DSM not only decided to donate the pre-mix, they wanted to participate further by providing technical assistance.

“We wanted to participate in the complete process to be sure the pre-mix is going to be used in the right way,” Mendez said. “We have a social responsibility with our products. We need to make sure that the people taking these vitamins that their bodies are absorbing them the right way. We have the responsibility to ensure the product is being used correctly. In order to obtain the right product we are helping make sure that the vitamins and minerals are created at the right levels.”

After this Mendez and DSM will join Kaiser and the CDC in formulating a nutrition survey, which will be managed by Project Medishare’s community health agents.

Mendez said the goal is first to give Akamil to 300 families and six month later these same families go in for blood tests to monitor the levels of iron and other nutrients. Community health agents will continue to test the families once a month to monitor nutrition levels. Afterward, Akamil will be offered to the whole community and will also be available for other NGOs to purchase for their programs.

Mendez said the nutritional survey is an important part of the process.

“This kind of test has to be done to sort of close the circle because when the kids or the families eat the Akamil we need to ensure the levels are good for them and will produce positive changes in their body and in their metabolism,” she said. “This helps us continue to make sure the right levels of the vitamins end up in the body and actually helps improve their nutrition.”

The nutritional surveys, according to Kaiser, are an essential part of Akamil’s business plan. And thanks to AutoGov and Motion Computer for donating data software, Blackberry’s and digital tablets, information collected by the community health agents will be available immediately.

“That information is creating electronic medical records which can be communicated to the local doctors, local clinics and it is immediately provided to the Ministry of Health,” Kaiser said. “People don’t have to wait two or three years for the results of a nutrition survey, which is typically how it is done. All of this information will be available immediately thanks to AutoGov and Motion Computing.”

In addition to the local medical community having instant access to information, the Ministry of Health will also receive these electronic medical records.

“[The Ministry of Health] are really excited that they are going to receive electronic medical records and they are going to have this way to collect information,” Kaiser said. “For Medishare, because we have done this nutrition survey, someone else can come in and conduct future health surveys because all to the equipment is there.”

“And now they are collecting their own data, and they don’t have to rely on the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to collect it for them, which always takes time,” Kaiser said. “Now [the Haitian people] can do it themselves, if we can teach them….and they can, and this is happening right here. We really are taking this concept of don’t give them a fish, but teach them to fish. That is what we are really doing from the beginning.”


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By Jennifer Browning

Last week the Associate Press reported that while many feared Haiti’s growing epidemic would overwhelm the capital, so far, rural Haiti is seeing the worst of this epidemic that has killed over 1,900 people in less than two months.

A Project Medishare nurse working in the Cholera Treatment Center in Mirebalais. Project Medishare and Partners in Health have hired 128 medical and support staff from Mirebalais and the surrounding area to assist in the battle against this deadly epidemic. Photo by Laurene Leger.

A little more than an hour away from the chaos and rioting streets of Port-au-Prince, Project Medishare doctors, nurses and health agents continue to battle cholera in Haiti’s Central Plateau through our community health program and at a Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) in Mirebalais, which is managed jointly by Project Medishare and Partners in Health’s sister organization, Zanmi Lasante.

With an increasing number suspected cholera patients arriving each day, Project Medishare and PIH have increased the capacity of the CTC by hiring additional staff which has grown from the estimated 82 local medical professionals  to 114. The professional and support staff is made up mostly of local Mirebalais residents, with a strong participation from the Cuban Delegation. In addition to treating cholera patients,  Mirebalais CTC  medical staff also serve as educators and advocates within community.

Project Medishare’s medical staff and health agents have received extensive training following WHO standards of cholera disease management by MSH-Belgium and other partners.

In addition to the Mirebalais CTC, Project Medishare is assisting the Ministry of Health (MSPP) in the cholera effort in the Upper Plateau city of Hinche by
providing materials, supplies and technical assistance to the CTC which has been set up in front of St. Therese Hospital.

Project Medishare seeking additional funding to further assist in this life saving activity in Mirebalais and Hinche. If you would like to help Project Medishare with our battle against cholera, please click here to make an online donation in support of our Community Health Program based in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

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