In Haiti, HHI responds to Zika virus outbreak

Heart to Heart International has been working in Haiti for six years to increasingly expand health care access to remote and vulnerable people.  The work our Haitian doctors and nurses are already doing has prepared HHI to respond to the Zika virus.  One of our Haiti staff members provides more details below…

Mother and child in Haiti

A young mother and child visit a HHI clinic site in Haiti. The Zika virus is causing alarm that it could be linked to rare birth defects.

 

 

by INDRA SORIACommunications & Fundraising Officer
Heart to Heart International

The Zika virus is now in Haiti. Although the symptoms are like a milder form of dengue fever, it should not be taken lightly.  Zika fever not only cause headaches, pains and rashes, it is also being linked to birth defects and could represent a real danger to pregnant women.

Heart to Heart International did not hesitate to take action when the threat of Zika arose in Haiti. Fortunately, we have great experience in this matter – we are used to treating diseases transmitted by mosquitos like malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya.

“People feel powerless against the mosquitoes,” said Dr. Jackenson Davilmar, HHI Haiti Medical Director, “their houses are not protected, they have lots of breeding sources in their neighborhoods”.

 

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In Haiti, we’ve developed a response strategy to not only educate communities to the virus and its risks, but to begin gathering materials to distribute to vulnerable people. Given the magnitude of the suspected danger for pregnant women and their babies developing microcephaly, we’re focusing on maternal/child health and reaching out to the greater communities in the areas where we work.

As part of this effort, we’re re-assigning approximately 100 trained community health workers to assist in spreading the word about Zika fever.  These health workers are already embedded in communities across the southeast of Haiti allowing us to move quickly.

Dr. Davilmar tells us “our teams are already instructing patients on how to destroy the sources of mosquitoes in their neighborhood and to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Our medical staff is also providing guidance to women who come to our clinics, telling them the risks as we know them, so they can be better informed.”

We are just in the beginning of this response.  But we’re in front of it.  Zika is likely to spread rapidly across Haiti.  HHI is in a good position to use our experience and expertise to respond to this latest outbreak.

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You can help us do this.  Donations can be used to provide medical care and guidance to pregnant woman in our clinics, and can provide the materials needed to protect so many from mosquito bites.

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Categories: Zika Virus