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Archive for the ‘malnutrition’ Category

By P.J. Pitts

It’s funny how we sometimes end up exactly where we’re supposed to be, even if we don’t know we’re supposed to be there.  The other day while sitting in the logistics office, waiting for my caffeine to set in, and started talking to a couple of University of

Chief Pharmacy Officer for Bernard Mevs Project Medishare P.J. Pitts went to a nearby ophanage to "deworm" the children there. Malnutrition and worms are the most problematic health issues for children in Haiti. Photo by P.J. Pitts.

Miami students about their project.  They were here field testing a very interesting “tele-medicine” software developed by MIT.  Their plan was to head out to New Life Children’s Home to shoot some video footage and talk with Miriam, the Missions Director, about how the software might be useful in Haiti.  Janet (a teacher from Oregon whose “alter ego” is a warehouse pixie in Haiti) had brought a bunch of school supplies to donate, so was heading out with them.  One of the UM students, Sean, seemed a little disappointed that they weren’t able to do more for the orphanage they’d been working with, so I suggested we “de-worm” all of the kids.

Miriam estimates that approximately 90 percent of the children in the tent cities have some sort of intestinal worm.  The living conditions are filthy, with many people sleeping on the dirt, and there is really no way to have anything be “sanitary”.  When a worm infestation isn’t treated, the worms migrate out of the intestines and into other areas. Seeing a kid cough up worms that are 6-inches long is one of those things you never forget.  And in a country where so many of the children are already malnourished, parasitic worms are even more deadly.  Many organizations and school will periodically de-worm all of the children as a precaution.  Anti-helmintics (de-worming medicine) are worth their weight in gold in Haiti, and I’d just been gifted a few thousand mebendazole chewable tablets, and playing with orphans is always a fun way to spend half a day.

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After vaccinating an infant, a Project Medishare nurse explains to the mother when the child will need further vaccinations. A vaccination chart recording all shots, as well as the child's current height and weight, is handed to each parent. Photo by Jennifer Browning.


By Jennifer Browning

Every first Wednesday of the month Project Medishare employees go to select area schools in Haiti’s Central Plateau to provide medical check-ups for children through the School Health Program.

A Project Medishare nurse organizes medicine for the children being served at Foundation en Chretienne School in the Lahoye area as part of the School Health Program. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

In 2008, Medishare received a grant from Cross International to begin working with primary schools in Thomonde, Marmont and Casse/Lahoye to provide access to age-specific curative and preventive healthcare to over 6,000 students between 5–19 years of age in Thomonde. This program reaches children typically neglected when it comes to access to health care. Additionally, there are certain ailments in children, such as malnutrition and visual problems that can handicap his/her ability to adapt, pay attention, and learn in school. Through the program, a community health nurse and two LPN’s visit these schools on a monthly basis and provide vaccinations, nutritional supplementation, visual screening, deworming, vitamin A and multivitamins, basic medical evaluations and health education. School Health is an important and supplementary aspect to Project Medishare’s Community Health Program. This program has the support of the Haitian Ministries of Health & Education with the goal to replicate it in other schools throughout the country.

In addition to providing medical examinations to the participating school children, it also allows Project Medishare’s staff to set up the vaccination clinic for infants. Here parents in the community bring their babies to check their weight and to get the necessary vaccinations such as polio, diphtheria, and tetanus. An average of 70-80 infants are seen each month during the school year.

Project Medishare nurse Marcel Pascal said the School Health Program helps the staff provide routine medical check-ups so that potential health issues can be combated immediately.

A Project Medishare community health agent measures a child at the Foundation en Chretienne in Cayemite, a village in Lahoye. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

“The School Health Program is important because now, the children don’t have to miss a day of school in order to get a check-up,” he said, “and if the child is having a health issue then it allows us to detect the problem sooner.”

Pascal said that the most typical conditions found in children during the medical examinations are worms and malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, intestinal parasites eat up to 20 percent of a child’s nutritional intake a day. In most cases, ridding a child of these parasitic worms can mean the difference between life and death. Importantly, worm infections cause anemia, vitamin deficiencies, a weakened immune system, lethargy and poor physical growth, especially in children. Worms also have longer-term economic effects. Anemia results in poor cognitive and intellectual development and impaired cognitive function.

In addition to the opportunity of early detection, the clinics provided through the School Health Program add a convenience for the parent. Before the program, parents had to wait to take their children to a mobile clinic in the area. This meant either and paying to rent a horse or donkey for the transportation, and possibly spend two hours under the sun during their journey to get to the clinic.

“Sometimes the parents don’t have the money, even if they see that their child needs to see a doctor, they can’t afford it,” he said, “so the School Health Program helps make sure these children get the appropriate follow-ups they need.”

Last year Project Medishare worked in 95 schools, and served 17,544 students through the School Health Program.

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The final piece of equipment arrived at the Akamil Production Facility in Thomonde. Project Medishare's construction team will soon begin to put all the equipment in place so we can start working towards a production date. Project Medishare is bringing in a technician to provide training. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

The last piece of equipment required for the Akamil Production Facility arrived in Thomonde last week.

Project Medishare is now in the process of putting all the equipment in place, so that we may start working toward a production start-up date. In the meantime, our staff is arranging for a technician to come to provide training on how to use the equipment properly. Once the technician arrives the facility will be operational and Project Medishare will begin conducting trials on all the equipment.

Soon all the equipment will be put in place and tile layed out along the floors inside the Akamil Production Facility. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

For the past three years Project Medishare has been a part of this hopeful spirit of progress and change in Haiti. Medishare has been working toward a long-term solution regarding hunger and malnutrition in Haiti’s Central Plateau, starting with the community of Thomonde. Project Medishare has been working toward specifically solving the malnutrition problem in Haiti with the construction of the Akamil Production Facility and Nutrition Complex. Construction of the facility began over two years ago and despite severe hurricanes and the recent earthquake, the Akamil Production Facility is finally complete.

Before the earthquake, Project Medishare planned to begin production of Akamil in late-January, however the final piece of equipment was held in customs long after the earthquake. Project Medishare staff for a while feared that the equipment had been damaged in the quake, but it was tucked away safely in the crate and has now arrived in Thomonde.

The Akamil Production Facility will manufacture and distribute AKA1000, often referred to as Akamil (Nutrimil), a mix of locally-grown products such as cereals (rice, corn, millet, wheat) and vegetables (beans) all blended into powder. It is a product of great nutritious value containing building and energetic nutrients, and is affordable to poor families. With the expert consultation of a nutritionist, the finished product will be fortified with a mix of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and Vitamin A.

With the recent migration of earthquake victims from Port-au-Prince, Project Medishare’s  population in Thomonde has increased by 29 percent. In Marmont, our population increased by 18 percent. This increases a burden on an already overstressed area when it comes to healthcare and food consumption.

The Akamil Production Facility will not only help battle malnutrition in the Central Plateau, but provide additional jobs for locals in Thomonde and surrounding communities. Project Medishare will also purchase produce from local farmers that will be used as part of the ingredients for Nutrimil (Akamil).

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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 Jennifer Browning

Because Rome’s U.N. Food and Agriculture offices are unheated at night, U.N. Food Chief Jacques Diouf bundled up with a hat, scarf and overcoat over his pajamas and spent the night on a makeshift mattress in an effort to draw attention to the 1 billion chronically malnourished people before next week’s U.N. food summit. Diouf began the 24-hour strike at 8 p.m. Friday in the lobby FAO offices.

Diouf along with the FAO hopes to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s hungry as well as put pressure on world leaders to help combat malnutrition.

The Akamil Production Facility sits behind a new generator, the first equipment to be installed for the facility. The Akamil Production Facility will manufacture and distribute Akamil, a mix of locally-grown products such as cereals (rice, corn, millet, wheat) and vegetables (beans) all blended into powder. It is a product of great nutritious value containing building and energetic nutrients, and is affordable to poor families. With the expert consultation of a nutritionist, the finished product will be fortified with a mix of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and Vitamin A.

The Akamil Production Facility sits behind a new generator, the first piece of equipment to be installed for the facility. The Akamil Production Facility will manufacture and distribute Akamil, a mix of locally-grown products such as cereals (rice, corn, millet, wheat) and vegetables (beans) all blended into powder. The finished product will be fortified with a mix of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and Vitamin A.

On the heels of the upcoming UN Food Summit, Project Medishare has been working toward specifically solving the malnutrition problem in Haiti with the construction of the Akamil Production Facility and Nutrition Complex. Construction of the facility began over two years ago and despite severe hurricanes the Akamil Production Facility is finally complete. Currently, equipment for the production facility is being installed. Project Medishare is expecting to conduct trial runs of the Akamil product in December.

(more…)

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