Monday, November 29, 2010

Haiti Cholera Assessment #1

(Hard time up loading pictures)

There is never a shortage of things that need explaining and what is happening in Haiti is one of them. The election for a new president was yesterday and there were 19 candidates running,15 of whom have now said that there has been fraud and the announcement of the winner will be within the next 24 to 48 hours. Demonstrations and perhaps even worse is expected. And here I am. Assessing what the cholera epidemic is doing to our children in our projects. There is never a moment in this country that is without hardship. Poverty, and earthquake, TB, slow recovery, and now this, a cholera epidemic. It's been said that even a mouse will kick an elephant when it's down. Well,kick away. This elephant, this country is staying down for a while.

We have 15 projects here in Haiti, with over 1600 children under our care. Jack from MoM HQ's and Edrice our country coordinator have been busy this week. They got supplies from the DR, visited all the projects, did a quick assessment of the children using an algorithm table I developed and began teaching the projects how to prevent cholera. I arrived several hours ago, and within 15 minutes of landing, was at the Justinian Hospital meeting with physicians that I have known, Nate from Konbit Sante, and off to a cholera treatment center (CTC). Within 2 hours we established the referral pattern for our sickest children and collaborated with the Baptist Hospital in Carrefour La Mort run by the Haitian Hospital Appeal. A CTC was being established there. I made quick rounds and saw extremely dehydrated and sick patients getting treatment. Rows and rows of them. A triage system is established with "A" for oral rehydration, "B" for oral and IV rehydration and observation,and "C" for seriously ill and dying patients. Chlorine basins are everywhere. Our shoes are sprayed with chlorine when we leave the area. Patients are coming by the hundreds.

But what about our children and the projects? I begin a comprehensive assessment of all projects tomorrow. I wanted to have the referral process in place before I went out so I could be able to send children somewhere if I needed to. Here is what we are doing for the projects:

1. Each project has 2 people identified as "prevention" specialists who are being trained by us to teach hand washing, hygiene, waste disposal, and assessment of signs of dehydration.
2. Each family (1600 of them) have received a gallon of chlorine for their water, enough to last one month with more to come
3. Each family (1600) have received 5 one pound blocks of soap
4. Each project now has a water filter
5. Each project has enough ORS packets to treat at last 50 children until they can be sent elsewhere
6. We will be assessing latrines, sewage, and waste disposal next

It's been a long day. I am hoping for calm tomorrow with no civil unrest. We have so much more to do. I feel like time is slipping away, and I wonder if it will ever slow down. I will rest little tonight, knowing that there are many who will slip away. The humiliation of laying in your own diarrhea, dehydrated, and passing away, is what I see even with my eyes closed. I wonder what they see.

In all things give thanks,