Update April 2 2010: Disease Threatens Haitian Children

New York donor conference:

As needs remain, Haiti must be given capacity to ensure access to medical care for its population
International aid must consider a direct financial support to the health system in Haïti. Decisions at the New York conference need to allow the Haitian health system to continue to address the population’s immediate medical needs.
Port-au-Prince/New York
While the majority of the Haitian population is still extremely vulnerable, the UN donor conference to be held in New York on 31 March must not take measures that would limit the access to health care of the population, says international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Since the earthquake of 12 January nearly all public and many private medical structures have offered free of charge health care. Meanwhile plans have been disclosed to progressively reinstate hospital fees as early as mid-April.

“Making access to health care contingent upon someone’s financial means would totally ignore the reality that we see in the streets and makeshift camps in Haiti,” said MSF emergency coordinator Karline Kleijer. “Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and live in rickety huts made of plastic sheeting, tents or ruined houses, with one latrine for a few hundred people on average. Shelter, hygiene, water and medical care remain a priority need.

“Short term humanitarian needs remain huge and unmet, and the arrival of the rainy and hurricane seasons threatens to cause further deterioration of the present living conditions. We have already seen large parts of camps collapsing during the recent rains. The collapse or flooding of shelters and tents could force many of the displaced to move again.”

Respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases are today the two main diseases that MSF treats. Earthquake victims continue to need post-operative and rehabilitative care, physiotherapy as well as psychological counseling. In addition, the population at large needs obstetric, pediatric, and trauma care.

“Haitians must have access to an efficient health system,” declared Dr. Christophe Fournier, MSF international president. “Necessary financial resources for the health structures to function can not be drawn from the extremely precarious population.”

International aid must consider a direct financial support to the health system in Haïti. Decisions at the New York conference need to allow the Haitian health system to continue to address the population’s immediate medical needs.

MSF has been assisting Haitian communities since 19 years. Today, some 3,300 Haitian and international MSF staff are supporting government hospitals and run facilities on its own. Since the earthquake, MSF teams have performed more than 4,000 surgeries, provided psychological counseling to over 20,000 people, and treated 53,000 patients. MSF has distributed 14,000 tents and close to 20,000 non-food item kits (including kitchen and hygiene kits, jerry cans, blankets and plastic sheeting). MSF is funding its activities in Haiti exclusively with private donations and is therefore no stakeholder in the donor conference in New York.

Source

Medical needs in Haiti remain high as MSF moves into next crucial phase

In response to the dire situation confronting people living in makeshift camps or on the street ten weeks after the quake, MSF is stepping up the distribution of tents and plastic sheeting, as well as blankets and hygiene and cooking kits.

HIGHLIGHTS

Ten weeks after the January 12 earthquake that left up to 300,000 people injured, medical needs remain immense in Haiti, and they continue to grow. A crucial phase has begun with thousands of injured people requiring long term medical care just as some of the health providers who responded to the initial emergency phase have begun to discharge patients and leave the country . ?MSF is expanding its capacity to care for the many wounded requiring extensive postoperative care – including secondary surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and mental healthcare – for at least the next year. In recent weeks, more than 200 patients have been referred to MSF medical facilities by other medical teams leaving the country. ? MSF is also focusing on primary health care, with the opening of new out-patient departments and the creation of additional capacity for secondary health services, including emergency obstetrics, intensive care for malnourished children, and inpatient care for paediatrics and adults.

In response to the dire situation confronting people living in makeshift camps or on the street ten weeks after the quake, MSF is stepping up the distribution of tents and plastic sheeting, as well as blankets and hygiene and cooking kits.

MSF activity specific to locations across Haiti

HOSPITALS – SURGERY – POST OPERATIVE CARE

Port au Prince – Saint-Louis Hospital: Surgical activities are ongoing in a 200-bed capacity inflatable hospital, which includes two operating theaters. An additional operating room is planned for treating treat patients suffering from burns. At the moment, around 200 patients are hospitalized and 770 surgical operations have been performed since setup. The hospital provides complete post-operative care: medical and surgical follow up, physiotherapy, psychological and social care. The hospital aims to treat the same cases that were treated at the now destroyed facility of La Trinité: major traumas (road accident, gunshots, burn victims, etc.) and health care for victims of sexual violence.

Port au Prince – Choscal Hospital in Cité Soleil: MSF intervened in this Ministry of Health hospital initially focusing on earthquake-related trauma. There are two operating theaters for major surgery, one for minor surgery. MSF also works in the emergency room and the maternity ward. The hospital has a 100 bed capacity, all under tents as the building has been slightly damaged by the earthquake and patients are still afraid to get in. The team has rearranged the hospital into a general hospital serving an extremely precarious population. Psychological care continues for all patients and caretakers.

Since the earthquake, 2705 (1852 new cases and 853 dressing) emergency cases treated in the emergency room, 874 trauma (trauma, wounds and burns), 201 trauma due to violence (57 gun shot, other aggressions by knife, machete, stone, bottle,…), 718 surgical interventions, 91 major orthopedic interventions including 37 amputations and 222 wounds operations; 363 deliveries including 39 cesarean section. Still a daily average of about 2/3 violence-related injuries, including gunshot and machete wounds.

Port au Prince- Site Office du Tourisme: Site functional since February 22. At present, 40 patients are hospitalized and receiving post operative and medical care, mental health care, and physiotherapy.

Port au Prince- Site « Mickey », Crèche angle rue Christ Roi et Bourdon Site opened on January 19. Currently, 61 patients are hospitalized and receiving post operative and medical care, mental health care and physiotherapy. For the immediate term: maintaining the maximum post operative care capacity, following up minor surgery cases, reinforcement of mental health rehabilitation

Port au Prince – site Lycée with its 80 beds of post operative care, was closed. Patients were transferred to the OCB facilities.

Port-au-Prince – Bicentenaire: Post-op, emergency and surgical facility with two operating theaters and pediatric and obstetric services. Presently 41 patients hospitalized in the 77-bed structure. A total of 90 beds foreseen. Mental health services are also provided.

Carrefour Arts et Metiers orthopedic hospital: Around 40 surgical interventions are performed every day in this 135-bed trauma and post-op hospital, which houses two operating theaters, and one of the few x-ray machines in the city. Orthopedic surgery, skin grafts, and muscle flaps are being performed and post-op care and rehabilitation are provided. Currently, 80 patients are hospitalized. Rehabilitation care is offered to patients in collaboration with Handicap International. Psychological care is offered to patients and families.

Léogâne: 90-bed hospital. Maternity activities are increasing; 50 deliveries and three C-sections performed in the past week. .

Jacmel: Full outpatient and inpatient services are available under tents (81 beds) as the main hospital was badly damaged. Surgery is ongoing in the hospital’s operating theater (services offered; internal medicine, surgery, maternity, pediatrics, emergency). Mental health services are also provided.

POST-OPERATIVE CARE

Although a full range of post-operative care is offered in all MSF supported structures where surgery is performed, some sites are specifically dedicated to welcome patients after surgery.

Promesse: Post-op structure with an initial capacity of 50 beds. Handicap International physiotherapists are working in collaboration with MSF. 46 patients are currently hospitalised. Mental health care provided.

Delmas 30: The first 70 patients and their caretakers have been transferred to this new post-op tented center, from the inflatable hospital structure in Saint Louis. The center will have more than 100 beds for people needing physiotherapy and mental health support. They will be transferred in the middle of March to the MSF facility in the Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Tabarre (capacity: 140 beds)

Sarthe: On February 23 MSF opened a new, a 203-bed post-operative center in a converted soft drink factory in the Sarthe area of Port-au-Prince (potential capacity of 300 beds). All patients from Chancerelle and Choscal who need further post-operative care (wound care, more specialised orthopaedic surgery, reconstruction surgery) were referred to this new structure. Up to now 150 patients were admitted. Handicap International physiotherapists are working in collaboration with MSF to optimize reeducation (including prosthesis for the amputee) and mental health support is provided as well.

SPECIALISED CARE : NEPHRO + NUTRITION + EMERGENCY OBSTETRICS

Port au Prince – General Hospital The nephrology team did an initial handover to the Ministry of Health, with donations of materials and three dialysis machines to the nephrology unit in the general hospital. Currently, 30 chronic patients are receiving dialysis. Another five dialysis machines has been installed recently to increase capacity of the unit. A nephrologist came for one week to give specific trainings.

Carrefour stabilisation center for malnutrition: Stabilization center and ambulatory feeding center for severely malnourished children. There are currently 22 children hospitalized.

Carrefour Maternity Hospital: MSF supports this Ministry of Health structure with staff, fuel and supplies to run 24hr maternity/emergency obstetrics services.

Isaie Jeanty, Emergency Obstetrics Hospital: MSF is working in collaboration with the Ministry of health for the maternity and emergency obstetric care in this 85-bed Ministry of Health hospital. This is the main referral hospital for Port-au-Prince for complicated and eclampsia cases.

PRIMARY CARE

Port au Prince – Martissant: This MSF structure provides an emergency and stabilization center through an outpatient department and a 30-bed inpatient department. There is also a 15-bed maternity service. The center has seen more than 3892 consultations since the earthquake and 1967 dressings. More than 1000 trauma had been treated including 100 by violence.The team is preparing to move some patients back into the undamaged structure.

Port au Prince – Delmas 24: A new health center opened on February 15 in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince. About 150 consultations are offered every day. MSF plans to open five out patient departments in total in the Delmas area (including in Saint Louis Hospital and Delmas 24).

Saint-Louis OPD and ambulatory: Opened February 27; 120 consultations/day. Follow up of post op in ambulatory ( dressing, physio, mental health…)

Les Collines: OPD will open March 10.

Fort National/poste Marchand: OPD will open March 15.

Port-au-Prince – Site “Mickey”, Crèche angle rue Christ Roi et Bourdon: Outpatient structure performing between 120 and 170 consultations per day.

Port-au-Prince – “Tourism”, in front of the Champ de Mars: Outpatient activities began February 15; average of 160 consultations per day.

Leogane, Dufort and region: OPD is operational in the city of Leogane on the site of Hopital Sainte Croix. At the Dufort fixed clinic site, approximately 250 consultations are carried out each day, with referrals to Leogane when required. In addition, MSF teams are operating mobile clinic activities in 20 locations, between Gressier and Petit Goave. In total, 2,130 consultations were carried out last week.

Carrefour Feuille: A team of one nurse, three doctors and one midwife is running a tent clinic in a camp for 9,000 homeless people in the area. Main pathologies are now diarrhea, skin diseases, upper respiratory infections, fever, gyneco cases, traumas and increasing requests for psychological counseling. An average of 130 consultations are carried out per day. The team is performing dressing changes and providing vaccinations. Mental health services are also provided.

Carrefour, Village Grace IDP camp: The basic health care unit includes an outpatient department, antenatal and post natal care and a mental health component in a site that is home to 15,000 displaced persons. 150 patients are seen daily.  250 dressings are done per week. Vaccination campaign for DTP and measles was carried out last week. Psychological care is offered to patients and families.

Carrefour, International Grace Hospital: A new hospital, located next to Grace camp, will offer out-patient services by the end of this month. Other planned activities include pediatric care and emergency services.

Carrefour, Shikina clinic, Waney 87. An out-patient health center offering basic health care, antenatal and post natal care, as well as mental health services. This is an urban area with many displaced are living in small groups.

Carrefour, outreach activities: A MSF team is working in a number of sites in the Carrefour area, including in displaced persons camps, homes for the elderly, clinics and orphanages.

Petionville Golf Club Camp (Golf course): A health care clinic offering basic health care and ante-natal care to pregnant women, referral services and psycho social counseling in this camp where 40,000 people are estimated to live. About 150 consultations have been provided every day (ANC, PNC as well as mental health).

MENTAL HEALTH

Psychological care is routinely offered to patients who have been through major surgery in MSF supported structures. But there are other mental health activities targetting specific groups.

Sarthe + Choscal + Martissant : A team of psychologists is still focusing on the patients and the caretakers inside the three hospitals, but as also shifted towards providing counseling to  displaced people living in makeshift camps around the structures.

Carrefour, Grace Village IDP camp: Psychological care (individual and group sessions) is offered in the camp, through the clinic and through outreach workers who work in the camp as well as in the surrounding neigborhoods.

Carrefour, MSF Field hospital: A team of psychologists is supporting the patients.

Delmas, Petion Ville Club IDP camp: Psychological care is offered in the camp through individual sessions and group councelling.

Bicentenaire, Promess, Jacmel and Carrefour Feuille: Mental health activites taking place in MSF facilities in all these locations. A team of Payasos sin Fronteras (Clowns Without Borders) worked in collaboration with MSF – their project has now finished.

NON FOOD ITEM DISTRIBUTIONS

Port au Prince – Ecole Saint Louis: 1,800 tents distributed in the camp near the inflatable hospital to an estimated 8,500 people. NFI (hygiene and cooking sets) will be distributed in the coming days to the same population.

Grand Goàve: 2,638 complete family kits distributed.

Petit Goave: complete family kits and tents for 364 families

Grace Village IDP camp: NFI kits distributed to 3,000 families (kit = 2 jerrycans, bucket, hygiene kit, plastic sheeting or tent, 6 pieces of soap and a hygiene kit)

Carrefour: 1,800 NFI kits to IDPs at different sites.

Port au Prince – Delmas 33: 200 NFI kits to IDPs at Solidarity site and 200 NFI kits to Delmas 33 “future hospital” site.

Leogane: Distribution of 1,550 NFI kits in rural areas in the periphery of Leogane. 5,000 additional NFI distributions planned for next week (plastic sheeting instead of tents), accompanying mobile clinics.

Jacmel:Distribution of kits to more than 1,800 families.

Cité Soleil: 2954 tents were distributed in several camps spread within Cité Soleil slums. Still ongoing with additional NFI kits distribution to come.

WATER AND SANITATION

Marrtissant, Cite Soleil, Chancerelle: Water distribution is continuing via 15 bladders, including one in Martissant, 11 around Cité Soleil, one in Chancerelles, and three in Sarthe,  focusing on IDPS close to the medical facilities. MSF has also undertaken the cleaning and emptying of community latrines inside the slum of Cité Soleil, which had been backed up for a prolonged period.

Carrefour, Grace Village Camp: MSF is providing 76m3/day water for 15,000 IDPs and constructing 45 latrines.  Additionally, 45 showers will be constructed and 15 Portocabs have been installed..

Chancerelle, Aviation camp: 50 latrines, 50 showers and 20 washing places under construction. Water provided by MSF to part of camp. Installing 30,000 liter tank.

Carrefour, Child detention center: Ten latrines and showers under construction; eight portocabs installed in the meantime.

Carrefour, Joseph Janvier camp: maintenance of 20 existing latrines for 1,500 IDPs.

Carrefour, various sites: chlorination treatment of tanks/wells and small interventions in other areas. Chancerelle, Aviation camp: 50 latrines, 50 showers and 20 washing places under construction. Water provided by MSF to part of camp. Installing 30,000 liter tank.

Leogane (periphery): Water distribution: target of 200,000 litres per day. Will install two latrine blocks in gathering spots, and, if used, will increase numbers. Again, water and sanitation activities will be in support of mobile clinics and around MSF hospital structures.

Port au Prince – Mickey: Water distribution of 80,000L/day

Port au Prince – Ecole Saint Louis: Water and sanitation work (latrines) for estimated 7,000 IDPs.

Jacmel: MSF installed a water bladder, drinking points, and ten latrines in St. Michel Hospital.

Grand Goave: Sanitation facilities established in four camps: Lifeline, Park Ferrus, Servants et Tit Paradise: 4-6 latrines per block, showers, bladders, and seven water distribution sites for a total of 7,000 beneficiaries.

Port au Prince – In Petionville and Carrefour Feuille: portable or fixed latrines, portable showers, waste areas and water bladders were installed for a total population of 31,800 people. MSF has carried out out water storage and distribution, constructed washing areas, showers, latrines, waste areas and hygiene promotion in the following camps :

Place Boyer, Place St. Pierre, Marie Therese, Hospital Sanatorium, Campeche, Tapis Rouge, Pinchinat (Jacmel).

Source

MSF/Doctors
Without Borders needs all the help they can get, to help those in Haiti.

The road to recovery for Haiti is a long way off.

There is and  estimated 300,000 that may have died.  I do not think they have an actual total number as some may still be buried in rubble.

For more information  MSF in Haiti

Haiti: Public Health Crisis Looming and Where is Media?

By Georgianne Nienaber

March 29 2010

The rainy season is about to hit earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The meteorological forecast for next week calls for thunderstorms beginning this Wednesday, lasting at least through the following Tuesday, and Dr. Jim Wilson is worried. Wilson is the Executive Director of Praecipio International, which is the Haiti Epidemic Advisory System (HEAS), based in Petionville-Port au Prince, Haiti. Wilson is also internationally known as the person who identified the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico and was a key player and founder of ARGUS, a global detection and tracking system for the early detection of biological events. He identified SARS outbreaks, H1NI, Marburg hemorrhagic fever, and issued the first warning of H1N1 resurgence in the United States in the summer of 2009. Wilson has been warning about the increase in diarreal disease in Haitian infants, and his warning is falling on deaf ears in the mainstream media.

For anyone who has been to Haiti and observed ground conditions there, the reasons are obvious. During the week of March 12 we were in some of the IDP camps. After a minor rainstorm floodwaters caused the overflow of pit latrines, bringing raw sewage into the camps and contaminating local water sources. This was in the camps that had pit latrines. A camp of 5,500 people near the slums of Cite Soleil had no latrines or sanitation of any sort. Feces, vomit and urine were everywhere in the surrounding bush. Obviously, contact with raw sewage greatly increases the chance of exposure to waterborne pathogens that cause diarrheal disease. Prior to the January 12th earthquake, diarrheal disease was already a leading cause of illness and death for children in Haiti. Now, children and adults are living in “shelters” that in the best conditions amount to salvaged pieces of tin providing makeshift “roofs,” to tattered pieces of plastic held together with sticks. The USAID “fact sheet” about tent material would be laughable if the consequences were not so tragic.
On March 11, a USAID/OFDA flight delivered 750 rolls of plastic sheeting to Haiti. To date, USAID/OFDA has provided 15,480 rolls of plastic sheeting to meet post-earthquake shelter needs, benefiting approximately 774,000 people. The ongoing distribution of USAID/OFDA-funded plastic sheeting supports Shelter Cluster efforts to provide shelter materials to approximately 240,000 households before the likely June onset of the hurricane season.

Here is a video of what it is like to live under plastic sheeting. Imagine this scenario in the hurricane season.

This video was taken on March 12, 2010.

The same “fact sheet” indicates that the United States has provided $769,948,358 in aid to Haiti. Where it has gone is anyone’s guess. By the time Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed and freelance investigative journalists have done their homework, it will be too late to assist the 1.3 million estimated homeless. Infants will start dying by the thousands before the media takes note, and an outbreak of even more serious waterborne disease will likely occur.

The lies are almost frightening in the Machiavellian planning and presentation. Drive along the main roads and you will see “camps” of moderate white tents, set in orderly rows with the banners of NGOs prominently displayed. This is what you will likely see on CNN.


Take a little time to venture off the beaten path–you will not have to go far–and the reality hits you right between the eyes.



Wilson suggests that there is another area of concern that has not been examined by health officials here in the States and in Haiti.

The reason for this high level of concern is obvious to all of us who are working on the ground. An extension of that concern may be seen when considering the fragile nature of the current ad hoc medical infrastructure in the quake-affected areas. It is our assessment this infrastructure comprised mainly of volunteers is easily overwhelmed by a sudden influx of patients, particularly pediatric patients. The higher the clinical acuity, the more easily it is to overwhelm.

Dr. Wilson is being mild in his public comments. Having seen this
Amputate a leg and send someone home. To what? Fix a broken arm and send a child, homeless, to an IDP camp where there is seldom a doctor or food to be found.


We found this stash of “medical supplies” at an ad hoc camp of 2500 outside of Leogane.

This ad hoc infrastructure is both limited and easily overwhelmed. Because of these conditions, rapid identification of diarrheal disease hot spots when they emerge is critical, so that aid can be moved quickly to prevent further spread of disease and exhaustion of medical resources.

Is Haiti prepared? Probably not.

There are 800,000 doses of the oral rehydration agent, Pedialyte, stored, but it will not be enough if a large outbreak occurs. Infants can die within 24 hours if not given the proper palliative care. There are not enough oral and IV antibiotics in-country. Even if drugs and rehydration kits were freely available, there is not an adequate distribution system in place to deliver supplies and no one to coordinate at many of the camps, except those located with the guarded compounds of the NGOs. Haitian mothers have not been told how to make simple rehydration solutions of salts and sugars.

The current Haitian public health surveillance consists of forms submitted to the Haiti Ministry of Health once a week and an under-developed network of sites to support laboratory testing.

Dr. Wilson suggests that along with the forms, health workers share information about the types of health events they are witnessing.

This is referred to as “informal surveillance,” and we offer the following Google group, the “Haiti Epidemic Advisory System” and the InSTEDD-supported SMS/text messaging alert system called Geochat to facilitate communication among us. In this Google group we will be sharing insights into what to look for and examples of informal surveillance in action. Please note this group is only for ground-based Haiti responders. The link to the Google group may be found here, and instructions for how to sign up for the SMS/text messaging Geochat service is found on the group website.

Our team encountered the Haitian Minister of Health, Dr. Alex Larsen, in Petionville one evening. It was a chance encounter, since all of the government offices were destroyed during the quake and officials who are still alive are hard to find.

We asked the purple-shirted chain-smoking minister if we might have a conversation with him after he finished his conversation and dinner. He said “yes,” but left without even a goodbye or “we will talk later.” Maybe Anderson Cooper can get him to open up. If he can find him.

A journalist friend in Rwanda, Patrick Bigabo, sent me a message on FACEBOOK that pretty much sums up the state of media affairs with regard to Haiti.

“The problem with public affairs reporting in poor nations is that for the western media there is no news unless horror is ongoing. Real media has vanished.”

Source

The links below have other information and links to other stories about Haiti.

War Crimes and Oil has the most.

Haiti: The Miracle and the Nightmare

Haiti: War Crimes and Oil

Help Haiti Everybody Hurts Video

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 7:39 am  Comments Off on Update April 2 2010: Disease Threatens Haitian Children  
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World aid agencies appeal to Israel to unlock Gaza

By Nidal Al Mughrabi
Reuters
January 21 2010

GAZA – The United Nations said on Wednesday Israel’s blockade of Gaza undermines the enclave’s healthcare system and puts patients at risk.

Max Gaylard, resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said Israel was to be commended for letting Palestinians from Gaza access specialist medical care but could save more lives by allowing more timely treatment.

“It is causing ongoing deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health,” he said. “It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialised treatment.”

“We have had extreme cases of patients dying because they could not get out to get the more advanced medical care in Israel,” Gaylard told Reuters in an interview after presenting a report on the situation at a Gaza news conference.

“It is quite true that hundreds of patients do get out to Israel. That has been happening on a continuing basis. That is good and we welcome it and the Israelis are to be commended for that,” he said. “I think we are concerned about the ones who do not go out and there are too many of them.”

One year later

One year after Israel’s offensive on Hamas-ruled Gaza, UN agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing over 80 NGOs, issued a report highlighting the health impact of the blockade.

They again called on Israel to relax its tight control of the Gaza Strip’s borders to allow sufficient supply of essential items and let people seek care not available in the enclave.

Gaza student Fida Hejji, 18, died of cancer waiting for Israeli permission to go to an Israeli hospital for treatment.

She was promised an entry permit three times. Three days after she died last November, her family got a hospital date.

Hejji had hoped to get life-saving treatment in Israel as other Gazans have done. The Egyptian border is also closed.

“In her [Hejji’s] last days she used to ask when she could rest, and when all her pain would come to an end,” said her mother Shadia. “I knew she was dying.”

Israel generally permits supplies of drugs into Gaza but not always enough to prevent shortages. Certain medical equipment such as X-ray and electronic devices are difficult to bring in and clinical staff frequently lack equipment they need.

Israel says it approves most requests by Gazan patients to cross its border for treatment, and there has been a 25 per cent increase in approvals since 2008 – data supported by World Health Organisation findings issued by Gaylard’s office.

“Not only are we doing our utmost to allow the people of Gaza every possible medical treatment, but we are doing this in a situation in which their own government is imposing a state of war and trying deliberately to harm Israelis, including those whose mission is to assist the very people of Gaza,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry.

Too late for some

The UN report said 1,103 patients sought permits for treatment in Israel in December 2009. Most succeeded but 21 per cent were denied or delayed, as a result of which patients missed their hospital appointments and had to restart.

“Two patients died recently while awaiting referral – one in November and one in December,” it said. In total, “27 patients have died while awaiting referral” in 2009.

Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in a 1967 war. The ensuing occupation saw limited Palestinian scope for developing an autonomous health service. Israel left in 2005 but the result was far from the peaceful coexistence it might have hoped for.

Critics accuse Israel of applying collective punishment to Gaza’s 1.5 million people, who are ruled by an elected Islamist government of the Hamas movement. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel and preaches armed struggle until its destruction.

Hamas remains in control despite the hammering Gaza took in the offensive Israel launched a year ago to stop the firing of rockets and mortars aimed at southern Israeli towns.

The UN said Gaza’s economy and environment were in a poor state, with inevitable consequences for health, and it noted that half the population are children.

“The humanitarian community is gravely concerned about the future of this generation whose health needs are not being met.

“The decline in infant mortality, which has occurred steadily over recent decades, has stalled in the last few years.”

Israel refuses to let Gaza have materials that can be put to military use. It says the Palestinians are too ready to blame all ills on Israel, and should not be ungrateful for the medical aid Israeli doctors and hospitals provide.

Israel’s offensive damaged 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals and 43 of its 110 primary healthcare facilities, the report said.

Some 1,400 Palestinians died in the bombing and shelling, and Israel lost 13 citizens in the December 27 – January 18 offensive of 2008-2009. Rocket and mortar fire into Israel from Gaza dropped off dramatically in 2009, but has never entirely ceased.

The damage cannot be fixed until Israel allows construction materials into Gaza, the report said. Meanwhile, doctors and nurses are cut off from learning the latest techniques abroad.

“The new surgical wing in Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital has remained unfinished since 2006,” the report noted.

Nafeth Enaeem, head of Shifa’s kidney department, said dialysis treatments had to be carefully rationed last year, which he said was the worst in terms of health conditions.

“Sometimes a cable for a machine took three months of coordination with the Israeli side to get into Gaza,” he said.

Source

This I suppose is Israels answer.

Israel has stopped issuing work permits to foreign aid workers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

James Hider in Jerusalem

January 21 2010

Israel has stopped issuing work permits to foreign aid workers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, sparking fears about the future of relief operations in the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Interior Ministry has issued only tourist visas to aid groups such as Oxfam, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children since before Christmas. They say that their legal situation is now precarious and that some staff have been denied entry by Israeli border officials who also control all entry to the West Bank.

The move came amid pressure from right-wing Israeli groups to crack down on non-governmental organisations, which are often seen as having a political, anti-Israeli bias. Early last year an Israeli group, NGO monitor, forced the New York-based Human Rights Watch to suspend a weapons specialist who had written a scathing report on Israel’s use of white phosphorus during its Gaza offensive. The group tracked down anonymous comments that the researcher had made on online discussions for collectors of Nazi memorabilia.

Some left-wing Israeli groups have accused Israel of “declaring war” on foreign groups such as Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, which have been critical of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Aid groups are now worried that the decision by the Interior Ministry could inhibit their work to provide medical support, welfare and basic supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

“We are now in a very precarious legal position,” said Jean-Luc Lambert, head of Médecins sans Frontières in Jerusalem: “We can’t get B1 [working] visas, only [tourist] visas, and with this it is not permitted for us to work.”

Mr Lambert said that aid groups had been given verbal reassurances from the Israeli authorities that they would be able to continue their operations in the 60 per cent of the West Bank under Israeli control, in Arab East Jerusalem and in Gaza — whose only open crossings are on its frontier with Israel, controlled by Israeli forces.

During the Israeli offensive against Gaza, however, the authorities prevented many aid groups from entering the area, raising concerns about the value of any verbal agreement. “This leaves NGOs vulnerable to border guards’ interpretation of the rules,” said Mr Lambert, making the development a serious source of concern for 150 international organisations.

He said that technically, under the new rules, he could not work in his East Jerusalem headquarters, nor hold a meeting in the predominantly Arab half of the city that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and which both sides claim as their capital.

“Officially, East Jerusalem belongs to the West Bank, but for Israelis it belongs to Israel.”

Another Western aid worker said there was a fear in the aid community that the move was a first step towards expelling them from East Jerusalem, where Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has said that Jewish settlement building will continue despite protests from the United States and the European Union. “There’s a feeling that we are going to be pushed out of East Jerusalem,” he said.

The Interior Ministry denied that visas had been stopped and said that if aid organisation workers spent most of their time in the West Bank they would need to apply to the Palestinian Authority or the Israeli Army for permits.

Aid workers said that they usually worked in both Israel and the West Bank, with their logistical hubs in the former, with its access to international sea, land and air routes, while bringing relief to Palestinians in the isolated West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Interior Ministry said that it was holding discussions with the army about how to deal with such cases.

NGOs operating in Gaza also worry that a lack of work permits could mean that they would not be able to enter the sealed-off coastal enclave through Israel, and may have to take in supplies through Egypt.

Catherine Weibel, of Oxfam, said that the issue of Israeli work permits was generating much anguish among foreign aid workers, many of whom worry that they could be denied permission to re-enter.

Source

NGO Monitor goes after all Human Rights organizations. NGO Monitor is is a group set up to harrass Human Rights organisations.

Not a very impressive group. They go after groups like Amnesty International or the  Red cross even.  So anything they have to say should be totally ignored by everyone.

It rates right up there with Honest Reporting or Camera.

They rather remind me of Fox TV. Anything but honest or fair.

Just more or less lobby groups. All Pro Israel and send thousands of letters to whoever they wish to annoy.

Anything to stop the truth about Israel from being told.

Recent

US Trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has started

Update on Haiti Earthquake January 19 2010

Israel floods Gaza villages, displacing a hundred families

Update on Haiti Earthquake January 18 2010

Spanish lawmaker’s photo used for bin Laden poster

US/Israeli Charity uses little Palestinian Childs photo to raise money for Israel’s Hungry

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on World aid agencies appeal to Israel to unlock Gaza  
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Update on Haiti Earthquake January 18 2010

January 18 2010

After surviving more than 5 days in the rubble, two victims were pulled alive from the wreckage of a collapsed Haiti supermarket late on Sunday to applause from amazed onlookers. (Jan. 18)

Had help arrived sooner many more would have been saved. Unfortunately it took far to long for help to arrive.

One would thing after Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami they would be better organized for such catastrophes.

Haiti text donations won’t get there until your billing cycle ends

Millions were raised in 48 hours for organizations like the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti foundation. (You can watch Wyclef’s response to financial criticisms of his charity here.) As of Friday, people texting “Haiti” to 90999 had donated $8m to the Red Cross specifically for Haitian earthquake relief. The damage is immense, suffering in Haiti is off the charts bad, and Haitians desperately need the financial relief that these charities can provide. The bad news? Any donations made via text message to these charities won’t be forwarded to their intended recipients until after your billing cycle ends:

It could take up to 90 days.  For the rest of the information go HERE

Related

Haiti’s dead are being buried in Mass Graves (Videos)

How Haiti’s Quarter Million Slaves Will Survive The Quake

(Jan 17)  List of Hospitals as provided by Haiti Medical (Unverified)

(Jan 17 ) Some Food and water locations in Haiti

Fractured Narrative: Haitian Calm, American Cynicism

One can almost feel the disappointment amongst Western media mavens that earthquake-stricken Haitians have not, in fact, degenerated into packs of feral animals tearing each other to pieces. Day after day, every single possible isolated incident of panic, anger, “looting” (as the removal of provisions from ruined stores by starving people is called) and vigilantism has been highlighted — and often headlined — by the most “respectable” news sources.

For the entire story go HERE

If you need food and water etc, Yes you would  breaking into a store and take it. That is not looting it is survival. I would do the same thing wouldn’t you.

During Hurricane Katrina some of the press said the same horrid things when in fact much of it was not true.

Some were even arrested for doing nothing wrong whatsoever. I remember.

Witness to a nightmare

Interview with Jesse Hagopian who was in Port-au-Prince with his 1-year-old son to visit his wife when the earthquake hit. His wife, an aid worker, works until the evening on most days, but by sheer luck, she came to the hotel where they were staying early on Tuesday–just minutes before the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. This spared Jesse and his family agonizing hours or days trying to find one another amid the chaos.

For the entire interview go HERE

Field News from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Haiti:  January 18 2010 Go HERE

For other updates on Haiti  from MSF go HERE

This one is the most worrying

Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince

Port-au-Prince/Paris /New York, 17 January 2009—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel.

One has to wonder how many other Aid agency’s are having the same problem? This should be a priority. The US military is running the airport in Haiti.

Reporters were there almost immediately and then the military.

Just thinking……I am not very impressed.

Desperate for help in Haiti

January 18 2010

Specially trained international teams continue to search for and rescue trapped victims throughout Haiti, but many of those saved are in dire need of medical care. More relief organizations and troops are arriving, but with communication limitations and travel restrictions, the desperately needed food, water and supplies are not reaching people fast enough. The frustration over the delay has left many wondering if the U.S. has done enough to help, and who will take charge in the coming days to protect the injured and homeless?

Even Gazans raise money for Haiti

Palestinians in Gaza set off for the Red Cross headquarters on Monday to offer donations and financial support for the victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake on Tuesday.

WOW is all I can say to that one.  It breaks my heart to know what they are going through,  but this is very heart warming at the same time.

France is demanding the United Nations investigate and clarify the dominant US role in Haiti, after Washington deployed over 10,000 troops to the quake-hit country.

The demand came after US forces turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the main airport in the Haitian capital.

The Pentagon says it has deployed soldiers in Haiti to help victims of Tuesday’s earthquake. This comes as US paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division took control of the main airport in the capital Port-au-Prince on Friday.

The move has raised ire among aid agencies with extensive experience of operating in disaster zones.

“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” France’s Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet said in an emergency EU meeting concerning Haiti on Monday.

He added that he expects a UN decision on how governments should work together in Haiti, while demanding a clarification of the United States’ role in the Caribbean nation.

Joyandet’s remarks echo those made by Venezuela and Nicaragua that expressed “deep concern” over the US deployment of troops in Haiti.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton whose country is also blamed for not being quick enough to send aid to the quake-hit nation has denied the occupation charges, stressing on Saturday that the White House had no intention of taking power from Haitian officials.

The US has been accused of interfering in Haitian internal affairs in the past.

The US military played a role in the departure of the former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide before his second term was over in early 2004. Aristide has described his departure as a kidnapping.

Last week’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti is estimated to have left some 200,000 people dead and more than 1.5 million homeless, with at least 70,000 bodies collected from the rubble so far.  Source

Well the US has interfered many times. This is one I have a few more somewhere just have to find them. But this is a start. Haitian’s also have a fear of US soldiers and for good reason…. Seems no one has bothered to mention that of course.

Coincidentally this was just the day before the London Bombings 7/7 and was pretty much totally ignored by the media.  I guess they thought no one would notice.

Haiti 6/7: the massacre of the poor that the world ignored

Recent

January 18 2010

Israel floods two Gaza villages, displacing a hundred families

US/Israeli Charity uses little Palestinian Childs photo to raise money for Israel’s Hungry

Spanish lawmaker’s photo used for bin Laden poster

Alarming glitch hits Facebook mobile accounts compliments of AT&T

Public gives £600,000 to Gaza appeal before broadcasts are aired/Information, If you want to Donate

This is the best news I have heard in a long time.

Yesterday, the DEC described the £600,000 pledged through the website prior to the broadcasts as an “unprecedented” response.

They need much more then that to rebuild.

Iran has also said they are willing to help rebuild 1000 homes.

By Jerome Taylor
January 27 2009

The Gaza appeal which the BBC is refusing to broadcast raised £600,000 before it was shown. Donations flooded in to the Disasters Emergency Committee website before the initial transmission of the two-minute appeal on ITV1 last night.

On previous occasions the DEC has not accepted donations until an appeal has gone out live but members of the public have been able to donate to the Gaza appeal since Thursday. Charity chiefs will be hoping that the controversy over the broadcast has increased public awareness that a way of donating to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is available.

Yesterday, Sky News sided with its main newsgathering rival in refusing to broadcast the appeal for aid for Gaza as the head of the BBC ruled out any last-minute policy change over its own decision.

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, said the public broadcaster had a duty to cover the Middle East in a “balanced, objective way” and reiterated the corporation’s belief that broadcasting the appeal could undermine its journalistic impartiality. The BBC has received more than 15,000 complaints since the weekend and has been publicly criticised by more than 50 MPs and two archbishops.

Dame Suzi Leather, head of the Charity Commission, adding her voice to the criticism yesterday, said she was “disappointed” that Sky had joined the BBC in not broadcasting the appeal. Along with ITV, Channel 4 and Five also agreed to show the two-minute appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee, a group of 13 charities including the Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and Islamic Relief, before their main evening news bulletins.

Yesterday, the DEC described the £600,000 pledged through the website prior to the broadcasts as an “unprecedented” response.

Ian Bray, a senior officer at Oxfam, said the media coverage had generated a huge amount of interest among the general public and added: “We hope that level of interest continues.”

Previous appeals to aid victims of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and cyclone victims in Burma raised £9.7m and £18m respectively.

Source

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Member Agencies
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is made up of 13 member agencies which provide humanitarian aid in times of disaster.

The 13 member agencies are:

  • ActionAid
  • British Red Cross
  • CAFOD
  • Care International
  • Christian Aid
  • Concern
  • Help the Aged
  • Islamic Relief
  • Merlin
  • Oxfam
  • Save the Children
  • Tearfund
  • World Vision

To Donate to those in need in Gaza

Be part of the Solution.

Donations to Doctors without Boarders are also needed. Just add a notation, you wish the donation to go to Gaza victims.

Gaza Report: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Doctors without Boarders/MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (MSF) Canada

Lets help those, who are helping victims in Gaza.

“Save the Children Canada” has also been helping those in Gaza.

Reports from: “Save the Children Canada” Charity in Gaza


Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm  Comments Off on Public gives £600,000 to Gaza appeal before broadcasts are aired/Information, If you want to Donate  
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Gaza Report: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

January 20, 2009
Gaza Medical Activities Increasing in Wake of Ceasefire

Medical activities carried out by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) inside the Gaza Strip have increased over the last 48 hours, in the wake of the Israeli and Hamas ceasefires.

On January 17, a six-person international medical team-composed of a vascular surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, an anesthetist, an operating room nurse, a logistician, and a field coordinator-entered Gaza.  On January 18, the medical staff carried out two surgical procedures in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where MSF has been providing medical supplies and personnel support.  Hospital staff had carried out close to 500 interventions during the three weeks of fighting, with at least 40 percent of the injured requiring amputations.  With an already large presence of international medical staff at Al Shifa, MSF is exploring additional ways to assist the affected population.
Inflatable Hospitals Going Up in Gaza City
A cargo freight of 21 tons of medical materials flown by MSF from Europe on January 15 finally arrived in Gaza City on January 19 after clearing security and customs procedures.  Among the items delivered are drugs, surgical kits for 300 procedures, and 100 hospitalization kits.

Logistics staff are constructing two inflatable hospital tents that were also included in the cargo load.  They will contain two operating rooms and a ten-bed intensive care unit for the MSF surgical team to work in.  The tents are being placed close to MSF’s post-op clinic in Gaza City and will be operational shortly.
Resuming Full Medical Activities; Cases Expected to Increase
The MSF team in Gaza, made up of 70 Palestinian staff and currently 12 international staff, has resumed its full range of activities, which were suspended during the fighting.  At the MSF post-operative clinic in Gaza City, medical staff treated 30 people on January 19.  Four people were treated at the MSF clinic in the southern Gazan town of Khan Younis, and four consultations were carried out at the MSF pediatric clinic in the northern town of Beit Lahia.

Patient numbers are expected to increase as people slowly begin to move more freely in their neighborhoods and seek out medical assistance.  MSF teams are carrying out assessments in various locations in Gaza to determine overall levels of medical needs, including at gathering points of internally displaced persons.  Nine more international staff are scheduled to arrive in Gaza tomorrow. Additional MSF staff and materials will be positioned inside Gaza if necessary.

Past coverage:

Field News: January 17, 2009
MSF Medical Team Enters Gaza to Reinforce Aid Operations; Surgical Team Was Delayed 10 Days Waiting for Israeli Authorization

Press Release: January 16, 2009
“This Slaughter of Civilians Must End:” Excerpts From MSF’s Gaza Press Conferences

Alarm Spreads Over Use of Lethal New Weapons

By Erin Cunningham

January 22, 2009
GAZA CITY,
Eighteen-year-old Mona Al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realised it was gone – completely severed by the weapon that hit her.

Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organisations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.

Mona’s doctors at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been “sliced right off with a knife.”

“We are not sure exactly what type of weapon can manage to do that immediately and so cleanly,” said Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at Al-Shifa hospital. “What is happening is frightening. It’s possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily.”

Both international organisations and human rights groups, including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned Israel’s use of unconventional weapons in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.

Amnesty International’s chief researcher for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Donatella Rovera, told IPS in Beit Lahiya that Israel’s use of white phosphorus and other “area weapons” on civilian populations amounted to war crimes.

“The kind of weapons used and the manner in which they were used indicates prima facie evidence of war crimes,” she said.

Israel announced Wednesday it would be launching its own probe into reported use of white phosphorus, but has so far refused to comment further.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said it would look into a claim made by the ambassadors of a number of Arab nations that Israel used depleted uranium in its recent attacks on Gaza.

Local doctors say a number of both widespread and unusual injuries may indicate that new types of weapons were used on the Gaza population during the war. Health officials are seeing wounds they have never seen before, or at least not on such a massive scale.

“There has been a significant loss of life here in Gaza for reasons that are unexplainable medically,” said Dr. Skaik.

Mona’s injury is characteristic of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). DIMEs are munitions that, packed with tungsten powder, produce an intense explosion at about the level of the knee, with signs of severe heat at the point of amputation.

“If you ask a patient how it happened, how their leg was removed, they won’t know,” Dr. Skaik said. “They’ll say that a rocket or missile exploded and took only their lower limbs off.”

Once in the body, tungsten is both difficult to detect and extremely carcinogenic, and can produce an aggressive form of cancer, according to both military experts.

Dr. Skaik says the Al-Shifa hospital alone has seen between 100 to 150 patients with this type of injury. Over 50 patients at Al-Shifa had two or more limbs severed, he says.

But because Gaza’s hospitals are so poorly equipped, it has been nearly impossible so far to test properly for the substances and count accurately how many wounded Palestinians may have been hit with this weapon.

The Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert who worked at Al-Shifa hospital during the siege confirmed to journalists that the injuries were aligned with those produced by DIME explosives.

Human rights groups say Israel used the weapon for the first time in Lebanon in 2006.

What is worrying health officials even more, however, is that some of the patients’ organs are being ruptured with little or no sign of a shrapnel entry point.

This is something they have never seen before, they say, and also something they do not know how to treat.

“Normal shrapnel has a clear path, with both an entry and an exit point,” said Dr. Mohamed Al-Ron, another surgeon at Al-Shifa hospital.

“But someone’s entire abdomen will be ripped open, and only after searching will we find a miniscule hole in the skin. Then we will find small black dots all over the organ, but we don’t know what they are.”

It is an indication, he continued, that whatever is entering the body is exploding and doing the damage once it is inside. Multiple organs will fail, and will continue to fail even after surgery removes any shrapnel.

“We are consulting with international colleagues, and they are confirming that there is something unusual going on with these cases,” said Dr. Skaik.

“We have seen plenty of nails, of metal shrapnel and foreign metallic parts, but there was never violence of this character or something that continued to damage even after the parts of the weapon were removed. What is being intentionally created is a population of handicapped people.”

Some of the injuries, including multiple organ failure, mutilation and severed limbs, are so debilitating that Dr. Karim Hosni, an Egyptian doctor volunteering at the Al-Naser hospital in Khan Younis, says he wishes he could just end his patients’ misery.

“Sometimes I wish my patients would just die,” he said. “Their injuries are so horrifying, that I know they will now have to lead terrible and painful lives.”

Source

Israel Accused of Executing Parents in Front of Children

White Phosphorus Victims in Gaza

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza ‘war crimes and another bit of information’

UN: Israel should pay for Humanitarian Aid they Destoyed plus a couple of other stories

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 9:57 am  Comments Off on Gaza Report: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières  
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Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases next week, UN figures showed on Friday, putting pressure on rival parties to form a government to tackle the humanitarian crisis.
January 24 2009

Robert Mugabe's denial of Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic was sarcasm

A young cholera patient is wheeled in a wheelbarrow to clinic in Harare’s suburb of Budiriro Photo: EPA

Zimbabwe has little hope of easing the cholera epidemic, which has killed nearly 2,800 people, and averting economic collapse without a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition.

Both Mr Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have shown no sign of compromise ahead of next week’s regional summit aimed at breaking the deadlock in negotiations.

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is “far from under control” and could exceed 60,000 cases over next week, the Red Cross said in Geneva on Friday.

Mr Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has come under pressure from Western powers, who want him to step down and are pushing for a democratic government to embrace economic reforms before millions of pounds in aid is offered.

The European Union announced on Friday that it is broadening its sanctions against supporters of Mr Mugabe by adding over 25 individuals and 36 companies with suspected links to human rights abuses to a list of those banned from the 27-member bloc.

The sanctions list will for the first time include companies registered in the bloc, including in Britain, two EU diplomats said, without naming the firms.

The move, due to be finalised at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, will add new government members and relatives of Mugabe allies to an existing list of around 170 individuals banned from travelling in the bloc.

Source

Sanctions will not help the situation, it will only make it worse. That has been proven time and time again. All sanctions do is cripple the country starve the people and does little, if anything else.

If the west and European countries care so much about the people they would help the people. They are not doing that of course.

Maybe they should Sanction Israel as well.

Zimbabwe: MSF Sees Spike in Cholera Cases in Kadoma

Report: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Epidemic continues to spread in rural areas and remains serious in Harare

January 22, 2009

Some 207 new admissions to a cholera treatment center (CTC) near the Zimbabwean capital Harare were received in a 24-hour period yesterday.

A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team at the CTC in the urban area of Kadoma saw the number of patients increase to 368 by the end of the day, January 21.

This number outstripped capacity and MSF is currently assessing new sites for an additional CTC.

Earlier this week, MSF sent medical supplies for the treatment of 1,000 severe cholera cases, along with 50 cholera beds, 50 buckets, and 8,000 packets of oral rehydration salts from UNICEF. More MSF medical supplies for the treatment of 600 severe cases were sent on January 22. One medical team will be stationed permanently in Kadoma to support the cholera response.

With the exception of the surge of cases in Kadoma, the cholera epidemic recently has been spreading mainly in rural areas of Zimbabwe. The numbers of new cases have been decreasing in Harare, although the numbers remain significant.

The spread of the disease in rural areas is a serious concern because some of these places previously had very low or no cases of cholera. As is often seen in rural outbreaks, deaths occur before an intervention can start, and MSF is concerned that the peak has not yet been reached in many of these areas.

In the suburbs, the lack of sanitation services continues to be a problem and could result in higher case numbers again, as was seen in November and December 2008.

Cholera cases are also being found in neighboring countries and MSF is responding as needed. It is believed that these cases are the result of the normal cholera season and are not related to Zimbabwe.

Source

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases  
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Haiti’s road to ruin

Tallulah Photography

This season’s hurricanes have made homes in Gonaïves, Haiti, unlivable, and conditions primed for environmental disaster will lead to more ecological refugees.

December 11, 2008
By Roberta Staley

Few are helping Haitians recover from natural disaster-and still fewer see the bigger problem

The drive north to Gonaïves from Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince is calculated in time rather than distance-it can take from three-and-a-half to five hours, depending upon rain and your four-wheel-drive’s suspension, to navigate the 150 kilometres of erosion-gnawed road that skirt the country’s coastline.

But nothing on the journey—not the cavernous potholes, trenches, or caved-in shoulders—prepares you for the apocalyptic dried-mud moonscape that is Gonaïves. More than two months after hurricanes Fay, Gustav, and Ike and tropical storm Hanna battered Haiti from August 17 to September 8, Gonaïves is barely better off than it was right after the tempests.

Mounds of dried mud cover city streets that United Nations tanks, motorcycles, and SUVs churn into thick dust that hangs like a grey-beige fog. Starving dogs, their vertebrae and ribs jutting through dry, pale hide, skirt among the wheels in a single-minded search for food, sometimes dragging limbs crushed by lurching vehicles.

The hurricanes skinned Gonaïves’s surrounding hills and mountains—denuded of trees for decades—as deftly as a taxidermist, allowing unfettered rivers of topsoil, clay, and water to submerge 80 percent of the city in goop more than a storey high. When the water evaporated, two-metre-deep mud remained. At least 466 people perished from August to September—more than double the number of people who were killed in the rest of the country. As of November, many of the surrounding rice, banana, and plantain fields were still flooded, as were homes on the outskirts of the city. (In total, about 70 percent of Haiti’s crops were wiped out, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.)

Bulldozers have started the cumbersome task of shifting tonnes of topsoil and clay from roadways, manoeuvring around overturned and crushed vehicles encased in mud like fossils. Some of the 300,000 residents who have returned to find the walls of their one- and two-room houses still standing are using shovels to dig out the thick, cracking earth, leaving chunks mixed with rotting trash outside doorways. But the homes are unlivable, and families dwell in tents on rooftops, leaving the city’s 40,000 female-headed households vulnerable to sexual predators. Too few trucks carry the mud away, and much of it is simply pushed into hills in the middle of intersections or along one side, creating a surreal version of a giant child’s sandbox.

But it is international apathy—as well as mud—that has Médecins Sans Frontières–Belgium (MSF–B) project coordinator Vikki Stienen so frustrated. Stienen, who is Dutch, arrived in Gonaïves in October, one month after the Nobel Peace Prize–winning NGO arrived to provide emergency medical care to hurricane survivors. MSF–B has managed—minimally—to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of citizens, creating a replacement water system and a new hospital as well as a mobile-clinic system serving the urban and rural populations still isolated by impassable streets and roads. A handsome, almost rakish, man with green eyes and a jagged front tooth, Stienen was given the task of creating a temporary replacement for the destroyed water and sanitation systems. With the water mains clogged with mud, MSF–B sends several tanker trucks of water every day from a deep well it drilled in September outside the city. The tankers drain chlorinated water into pipes that link to bladders, enormous canvas water containers that, in turn, are linked to communal taps scattered throughout the city.

With the project set to end January 15, the MSF–B team is working desperately to try to ensure the rudimentary water system is expanded and can be maintained by local government workers. However, with the city still blanketed by mud, it is impossible to create any sort of sanitation system, Stienen says. Without toilets, people relieve themselves in the street and behind the mud mounds, with the result that dried excrement mixes with the dust-laden air. Rebuilding the sanitation system is dependent upon all the mud being cleared away, a task that could take a year, Stienen says.

MSF–B feels isolated and overwhelmed by the need; MINUSTAH, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, should be doing more, Stienen says. “You don’t like to bash the UN, but we had a coordination meeting and you would think they were talking about something else,” says Stienen, leaning back, loose-limbed, in a white plastic chair in the shade, dressed in wide-leg linen pants, brightly coloured loose shirt, and red flip-flops in the more than 30 ° C heat. “Other NGOs and the UN, you see their reaction and it’s as if they don’t care. Where does this apathy come from? Why are they so indifferent?”

Before the hurricanes, most of Gonaïves’s 300,000 citizens obtained their water from about 5,000 communal wells. However, these are also contaminated with mud and must be cleaned out and fitted with new pumps, something MSF–B is also trying to do before it withdraws. “Normally,” Stienen says, “this would be the World Health Organization who would do this, but they’re not here either.”

Stienen is especially worried by the UN’s apparent inability to ensure the safety of the citizens of Gonaïves. The incidence of rape is so high among women, perched on roofs with their children in the dark, that MSF–B has added a psychologist to its mobile clinic to provide trauma counselling. “You ask them, ‘How long will you sit on your roof?’ They say, ‘We are forgotten by the government and the UN,’ ” Stienen says. “This is not security, to sit on the roof with no electricity. So it adds to my question: ‘Is the government and UN taking it seriously?’ ”

Stienen muses that what lies at the root of international apathy is simple cynicism over Haiti’s propensity for disaster. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, weathered a severe storm four years ago when hurricane Jeanne killed about 3,000 people. Foreign aid rebuilt the water and sanitation system in Gonaïves and the international community faces the obligation of rebuilding it once more. Once it’s constructed, it is only a matter of time before more hurricanes destroy it again. “People say Haiti is complicated, but this is not a reason not to care,” Stienen says. “Maybe that’s where the apathy comes from, because this country is unmanageable.”

Brazil’s Maj.-Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, force commander of MINUSTAH since January 2007, addresses the question of security several days later in an interview in Port-au-Prince. In Gonaïves, the main task of the local UN force, which consists of about 500 Argentine and Pakistani troops as well as local police, is to maintain a safe environment, but “in practice we keep the stability through support of the local police,” Santos Cruz says.

During the hurricanes, he says, UN troops threw themselves into humanitarian assistance: evacuating patients from La Providence Hospital (a once-pretty white-and-green facility, renovated after the 2004 hurricane, that is now mired in dried, grey muck), saving the medicines, and assisting birthing women. Now, Santos Cruz says, the main focus is guarding the warehouse where supplies are stored for the World Food Programme (WFP), which allocated US$33 million for emergency food supplies at the beginning of September. (Only one-third of this amount has been forthcoming from member states.) However, Stienen condemned a decision by the WFP to stop distributing food after fights broke out at a depot weeks after the hurricanes. The WFP cited mismanagement of the depots and a lack of safety as reasons for stopping distribution. WFP Haiti spokesperson Hilary Clarke says that the UN organization still managed to deliver food to women staying in shelters in Gonaïves.

Regular food distribution has resumed, Clarke says, and virtually all of Gonaïves’s citizens are receiving food packages every two weeks containing such staples as rice, beans, and oil, most of it imported from the United States. Still, some children have sickened from lack of food and show signs of protein starvation, called kwashiorkor: reddish, thinning hair; enlarged abdomen; sad, sagging faces; stick-thin arms and legs; and edema so severe it cracks the skin. At MSF–B’s new Hôpital Secours Gonaïves, built in a warehouse once used by the humanitarian group CARE, 15-month-old Cindjina sits on the lap of her mother, Thelse Almonur, in the pediatric ward. Cindjina was 5.9 kilograms, the average weight of a two-month-old, when she was admitted September 27. Thelse is feeding her daughter a peanut-butter paste mixed with vitamins. The paste has helped Cindjina gain weight and, six weeks later, she is up to 6.5 kilograms, still four kilograms below the average weight for her age.

Generally, about one-third of children in Haiti suffer from chronic malnutrition. However, a recent survey by the aid organization Action Contre la Faim showed the malnutrition level in Gonaïves to be about four percent, due in large part to the large-scale food distribution, Clarke says.

Stienen shakes his head. “In Gonaïves, you see more than chronic malnutrition. It is a weakened population, with the most vulnerable being the children. Those families with four to five children, they suffer the most.”

The future does not look promising for Gonaïves’s people. National food shortages have put the country in a “highly volatile situation”, according to the WFP’s Bettina Luescher, speaking from her UN office in New York City. The WFP is planning to begin phasing out food distribution in Gonaïves in 2009 to “avoid creating a context of assistance and food dependency”.

Some people think that a simple solution to this enormous problem would be to move Gonaïves, which sits below sea level at the confluence of three rivers, to higher ground. Stienen laughs humourlessly at the notion; this will never happen, he says. There are neither sufficient resources nor the political will to relocate 300,000 souls up the steep, bare, infertile, erosion-prone hills and mountains.

What lies at the root of this dilemma? Environmental degradation caused by the wholesale cutting of trees. A century ago, Haiti was a tropical rainforest with huge stands of mahogany. However, 20th-century exploitation by foreign corporations and the Haitian government’s need to service an egregious national debt owed its former slave-owning colonial master, France, meant that much of the forest cover was felled for cash. Now only 1.5 percent of the country is forested, according to the UN—a sharp contrast to the lush Dominican Republic, a country adjoining Haiti on the same West Indies island.

But the people of Haiti are also responsible for deforestation. The majority of Haiti’s 9.5 million people rely upon charcoal for cooking; most electricity is privately generated and there is no gas or kerosene. Charcoal is made by cutting down a tree, leaving it to dry in the sun, then slowly cooking it in a makeshift kiln. In an effort to preserve the life of the tree, the stump is left, with the hope it will send out shoots. This woeful attempt at silviculture is largely unsuccessful. In the area around Gonaïves, Stienen says, there are fewer trees than there were in 2004.

The string of environmental disasters experienced by Gonaïves, as well as other places around the world, is giving rise to a world phenomenon: ecological refugees. Rising sea levels and more destructive cyclones and hurricanes that experts link to global warming, as well as widespread deforestation and erosion, have created populations of desperate people fleeing disasters. In Gonaïves, for example, Stienen estimates that there are only 10,000 male-headed households, one quarter the number of female-headed families. The rest of the men have fled to other countries for jobs and a more secure life. However, their families cannot follow and are left to carry on a life of struggle and, possibly, worse hunger than they face now.

But fleeing can be as dangerous as staying. No one knows this better than 22-year-old Timanit Cherisma. Cherisma lies silent on her side in the obstetrics ward of the MSF–B hospital, an intravenous drip in one arm. Just an hour ago, Cherisma gave birth to twin girls. But there is no joy in the room, and the only sound is muted mewing, like new kittens, from the twins, bound in a blue blanket on a cot. The father of the infants died after his boat capsized while he was fleeing Haiti to try to find work in the Bahamas. The twins have no home to go to—it was washed away in the flood. “I see no hope for the babies,” Cherisma’s mother, 48-year-old Tazilia Esenvile, says in Creole.

Back in Port-au-Prince, a handful of courageous people are making an 11th-hour attempt to turn back the tide of total environmental degradation in Haiti, which, at 27,750 square kilometres, is about three-quarters the size of Vancouver Island. The Fondation Seguin was cofounded in 2004 by Serge Cantave to try to save the country’s last remaining pockets of natural forest and to educate teachers and youth about conservation. Through its Ecole Verte program, a sense of responsibility toward the environment is also being cultivated when students travel to mountain regions to plant trees. To date, 30,000 trees have been planted by students, says Cantave, whose organization is financially supported by the development organization Yéle Haiti, headed by Haitian-American hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean.

Without reforestation, Haiti will simply wash away into the ocean. “It will disappear,” says Cantave, who estimates it will take a century of dedicated tree-planting to reverse the clear-cutting. The way this can be achieved, Cantave says, is for the Fondation Seguin to work with an international network of ecological groups. Cantave looks to British Columbia, which has spawned generations of dedicated environmentalists, for help in coordinating tree-planting programs and educating Haiti’s young. “We are asking you to share with us your experiences,” Cantave says. “We are begging the international community for support.” (Another organization, the Lambi Fund of Haiti, which is allied to Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize–winner Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement, has plans to plant one million trees.)

Haiti, despite the meagre streaks of green across its topography, is important internationally for its unique biodiversity: it is a potential source of medicinal plants and a key resting and feeding place for migrating birds, Cantave says. For example, Canada’s black-throated blue warbler, which breeds in southeastern Canada but winters in the Caribbean, stops in Haiti’s Parc National La Visite, a 2,000-hectare oasis. (Haiti’s national parks include Sources Puantes, at 10 hectares; Sources Chaudes, 20 hectares; Forêt des Pins, 30,000 hectares; Sources Cerisier, 10 hectares; and Fort Jacques et Alexandre, which is only nine hectares.)

Some support has been forthcoming. The German international-cooperation enterprise Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit recently donated about $800,000 to the Fondation Seguin for a special project to plant 120,000 fruit, evergreen, and spice trees, as well as pasture grass to retain the soil. Cantave says the project is married to economic and infrastructure development for surrounding subsistence farmers to encourage them to support reforestation efforts.

Is Haiti doomed to be a country of no hope? Many, it would seem, despair that Haiti’s political, economic, social, and ecological wrongs will keep it in a state of desperation that will never be overcome. Yet if history has proven anything, it is that human will is an unstoppable force. People like Stienen and Cantave, with their sense of moral outrage, are an inspiration to the rest of the world to show the will to help Haiti overcome the myriad of problems afflicting its beleaguered people.

Source

MSF/Doctors Without Boarders Canada

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Zimbabwe: Cholera Hits Beitbridge, Exposes Major Health Risks

December 1 2008

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

An MSF aid worker treats a cholera patient in Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa.

“I am feeling a little uncomfortable,” Henry, a middle-aged gentleman, says quietly as he looks up at Clara from where he is lying on the dirty floor. Henry is so dehydrated his cheeks are completely sunken and his eyes stand out from his closely cropped skull. Clara Chamizo, a nurse on her first MSF assignment in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, sees the extreme absurdity of this statement. She is standing in the middle of dozens of cholera patients lying on the dirt in the backyard of Beitbridge’s main hospital. Cholera has overwhelmed this border town of about 40,000 like contaminated wildfire.

“Normally, cholera starts with a few cases and then we have the peak after a few weeks,” says Luis María Tello, the MSF Emergency Coordinator who arrived a few days after the first cases were reported and is surprised to see such high numbers now. Though research still needs to be done, Luis’s theory right now is that “a lot of people got cholera from the same source at the same time.”

On Friday, November 14, when the Zimbabwean Health Authorities in Beitbridge first reported cholera to MSF, there were five cases. Two days later, there were already more than 500; by the end of the week, there were more than 1,500.
Overwhelmed, Undersupplied Hospital Cannot Fight Cholera Outbreak

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

Cholera patients are treated on the ground at the main hospital in Beitbridge, which was overwhelmed with patients.

Patients were first placed inside Beitbridge’s main hospital, most lying on the cement floors, in very poor hygienic conditions. There is a lack of cleaning personnel as well as proper gear, chemicals, and water, not to mention all the hospital toilets have been blocked up for a long time.

On Sunday morning, the hospital had to make the decision to put all the patients out behind the buildings, on the dirt, so that body excretions could be absorbed into the ground. The sight was appalling: patients lying in the dust in the scorching heat; all asking for the life-saving drip (Ringer lactate IV fluid). There wasn’t even any water to give them, since the hospital, as everywhere in town, has its water supply cut on most days.

Clara and Veronica Nicola, the MSF doctor who is also the project coordinator at the Beitbridge project, were the only MSF expatriates in town when the emergency hit. Veronica, an Argentinean pediatrician who has been on several MSF missions, says she never has had to insert so many catheters in one day in her life.

“For me, the hardest thing was to be able to concentrate on one person,” said Veronica. “There was a man lying next to one of the trolleys under the sun. By the time I got to him, he was in shock. We tried to get a vein, like, ten times, but then he started gasping and he died right there in front of our eyes.” She pauses for a minute and then adds, “If I had seen him half an hour before, we might have been able to do something about it, but there were so many people lying there, people calling you. But still,” she adds thoughtfully, “we could have done something.” In her calm manner she summarizes, “It was very bad.”

In one week, 54 people died.

At the beginning of the crisis, the Beitbridge hospital did not have any IV fluid or oral rehydration salts (ORS) tablets in stock. MSF shipped over 800 liters of the Ringer’s fluid the first day of the intervention and since then there has been a continuous supply. Shipments of medical and logistical supplies arrived over ten days. A team of 16 expatriates, comprised of doctors, nurses, logisticians, and administrators were sent to Beitbridge. And more than 100 additional health workers, cleaners, and day workers have been hired locally.

In three days, a cholera treatment center (CTC) with 130 cholera beds—those with a hole in the middle under which a bucket is placed so that the diarrhea is released directly in the container—was set up.

Once the cholera bacteria enters the body, it releases a toxin which causes part of the intestines to suck all the water from the body. The intestines, unable to handle so much water, rejects it. The only thing that can be done is to give the body enough fluids to survive until the bacteria’s own life cycle expires, usually in about five days. If a person does not receive enough fluids, he or she can die within hours of contagion.

The only real way to prevent cholera is to have good hygiene and clean water. From the second day of the outbreak, an MSF car with two officers from the Zimbabwean Environmental Health Office (HEO) was dedicated to going around town, giving out information to the public on how to avoid getting cholera.
Town’s Problems Are Long-Term

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

The poor water and sanitation conditions in Beitbridge make it easier for the cholera bacteria to spread.

The town of Beitbridge is a shifting tide of migrants, truckers, sex workers, unaccompanied children, and desperate people trying to find a better life – mostly by attempting to cross the border into South Africa. With the current economic crises in Zimbabwe, basic services are lacking and especially so in a town with such uncontrolled growth. There is trash everywhere, and open sewage runs through most of Beitbridge’s streets. Almost everyday there are cuts in the water and power supplies.

As the MSF car moved slowly through the neighborhoods and the Zimbabwean EHOs tried to give their speeches through a loudspeaker, angry crowds would gather to shout, “How do you expect us to control cholera when there is no water!” and “Look at this sewage running here right next to us,” “Why don’t you clean up the garbage in the streets?”

On the main highway, which transverses Beitbridge, there is an area where all the truckers stop on their way to cross over the border. Sometimes it can take days to clear the paperwork to cross, so they camp here, together with passengers or relatives. When the MSF car stopped there, the truckers gathered around and were just as angry as local residents. They showed some cesspools where they come to wash their hands and pointed out a dusty field next to them, covered in human excrement. “Where are we supposed to go?” pleaded one man.

These problems are long-term. The water station doesn’t have the parts to properly repair its pumps. Even if it did, it depends on electricity to be able to pump water from the water tower to the city. Electricity depends on a coal mine that hasn’t been paid in over a year and can no longer supply coal. Then, there is no fuel to run the garbage trucks and there is no money to pay salaries for people to collect the garbage. There are no equipment or supplies to fix the sewage system, and no money to pay personnel to do it. MSF is working on meeting the emergency needs in the short-term, but real solutions are needed to prevent future outbreaks.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 7:18 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières  
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Students bring awareness to Congo

Day of Action, November 27 2008

by Jillian Steger
News Writer

November 25 2008

There is an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today. Five UBC students are taking a stand and have created the Africa Canada Accountability Coalition. Their goal is to call students to action. I spoke with Annabel Wong, one of the founding students of the operation.

J: What was it that interested you in this cause?
Annabel: It was because of this course I’m taking, POLI 360 Security Studies. For a project we were doing I chose to study the DRC and now I question why we don’t hear more about it. The first and second Congo Wars killed approximately five million people and it’s basically World War Three. It involves a regional dynamic. Each of us is a participant in this war, mainly those of us who own cell phones. As part of the larger problem we think we are learning world history when we are mostly learning about Western Europe. Also conflict erupted as we were doing our proposal so I found that we have the responsibility to do something.

J: What has your coalition established so far?
A: We have been talking to MPs. We have established a letter with three points we want the Canadian Government to address. We have been in contact with MPs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo area and Peter MacKay. We have been talking to Philip Lancaster, who was Romeo Dallaire’s right hand man, about the realities on the ground. We have been talking to professors and a lot of NGO’S. And we have our petition up so sign it!

J: Tell me generally about what your coalition hopes to establish.
A: In our letter we have established three points which are humanitarian aid; basically increasing CIDA’s funding, training personnel about sexual violence and ending the misdoings of Canadian companies in the region.

J: Are women’s issues important in this conflict? What is the connection between rape and the conflict?
A: I believe the situation in the DRC has incited the UN to declare rape a weapon of war. You really have to think about what that means. It’s not just a matter of semantics. It’s impactful to me that humans are used for sex and then they’re further stripped of their dignity. The rapists of a lot of women put a gun in their vagina in a way that they don’t die. I think that this is trying to send a message of threat. All forms of sexual violence can be found in this conflict. I think that’s so unfair.

J: What can UBC students do to support your cause?
A: Sign our petition and join our Facebook group. Talk to your politicians, friends and politician friends. Come out to our day of action on Thursday November 27 at 10:55am outside the SUB.

Source
I think this is wonderful that students, take the time to build awareness to this crisis.

Every Voice makes a difference.

Human crisis overwhelms Congo rebels – seasoned fighters have no idea how to govern

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

3,000 dead from cholera in Zimbabwe

November 26 2008

By Basildon Peta

A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic, where victims of cholera are being treated in Harare, Zimbabwe

Getty

A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic,

where victims of cholera are being treated in Harare, Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s President, is trying to hide the real extent of the cholera epidemic sweeping across his nation by silencing health workers and restricting access to the huge number of death certificates that give the same cause of death.

A senior official in the health ministry told The Independent yesterday that more than 3,000 people have died from the water-borne disease in the past two weeks, 10 times the widely-reported death toll of just over 300. “But even this higher figure is still an understatement because very few bother to register the deaths of their relatives these days,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

He said the health ministry, which once presided over a medical system that was the envy of Africa, had been banned from issuing accurate statistics about the deaths, and that certificates for the fraction of deaths that had been registered were being closely guarded by the home affairs ministry.

Yet the evidence of how this plague is hurting the people of Zimbabwe is there for all to see at the burial grounds in this collapsing country. “When you encounter such long queues in other countries, they are of people going to the cinema or a football match; certainly not into cemeteries to bury loved ones as we have here,” said Munyaradzi Mudzingwa, who lives in Chitungwiza, a town just outside Harare, where the epidemic is believed to have started.

When Mr Mudzingwa buried his 27-year-old brother, who succumbed to cholera last week, he said he had counted at least 40 other families lining up to bury loved ones. He said: “That’s sadly the depth of the misery into which Mugabe has sunk us.”

Unit O, his suburb, has been without running water for 13 months. The only borehole in the area, built with the help of aid agencies, attracted so many people day and night that it was rarely possible to access its water. Residents were forced to dig their own wells, which became contaminated with sewage. The water residents haul up is a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria, including Vibrio cholerae, which causes severe vomiting and diarrohea and can kill within hours if not treated.

The way to prevent death is, for the Zimbabwean people, agonisingly simple: antibiotics and rehydration. But this is a country with a broken sewerage system and soap is hard to come by. Harare’s Central Hospital officially closed last week, doctors and nurses are scarce and even those clinics offering a semblance of service do not have access to safe, clean drinking water and ask patients to bring their own.

As the ordinary people suffer Mr Mugabe is locked in a bitter power struggle with the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over who should control which ministries in a unity government. The President has threatened to name a cabinet without the approval of the Movement for Democratic Change, which could see the whole peace deal unravel.

Talks were continuing between the two parties in Johannesburg yesterday with little sign of a breakthrough, but pressure is growing from around the region and beyond to strike a deal as the humanitarian crisis deepens. Hundreds of Zimbabweans have streamed into South Africa, desperate for medical care. Officials in the South African border town of Musina say their local hospital has treated more than 150 cholera patients so far. “[The outbreak] is a clear indication that ordinary Zimbabweans are the true victims of their leaders’ lack of political will,” the South African government’s chief spokesman Themba Maseko said.

Yesterday Oxfam warned that a million of Zimbabwe’s 13 million population were at risk from the cholera epidemic, and predicted that the crisis would worsen significantly in December, when heavy rains start. “The government of Zimbabwe must acknowledge the extent of the crisis and take immediate steps to mobilise all available resources,” said Charles Abani, the head of the agency’s southern Africa team. “Delay is not an option.”

The Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights has accused the government of dramatically under- reporting the spread of the disease. Doctors and nurses – whose salaries can just buy a loaf of bread thanks to hyperinflation – tried to protest last week against the health crisis, but riot police moved in swiftly.

It is not just cholera victims who are suffering. Willard Mangaira, also from Chitungwiza, described how his 18-year-old pregnant sister died at home after being turned away at the main hospital because there were no staff and no equipment to perform the emergency Caesarean operation she needed. Yet he added that if the situation in Chitungwiza was deplorable, what he had left behind in his village of Chivhu, 100 miles away, was beyond description. Adults and children alike were now living off a wild fruit, hacha, and livestock owners are barred from letting their animals into the bush to graze until the people have fed first.

Bought foodstuffs are beyond reach. The official inflation figure is 231 million per cent and the real level is higher: some estimates say basic goods double in price every day. Few can afford to give their deceased relatives a proper funeral. Death used to be a sacred time, with families taking a week to celebrate the life of the deceased before burial. Now the dead are buried instantly.

Lovemore Churi buried his father within an hour of his being confirmed dead. “I did not have the money to let mourners assemble and then start to feed them,” he said. “If mourners hear that someone is already buried, they don’t bother coming and one does not have to worry about how to feed them. That is the way we now live.”

The disease: Deadly, but preventable

* Cholera is caused when a toxin-producing bacterium, Vibrio Cholerae, infects the gut. It is carried in water containing human faeces.

* In its most severe form, and without treatment of antibiotics and rehydration, it causes acute diarrhoea and dehydration, and can kill within hours of symptoms showing.

* John Snow, a doctor in 19th-century London, was the first to link it with contaminated water when he studied an outbreak in Soho in 1854, which had killed more than 600 in a few weeks.

* Until then, it was thought to be spread by a mysterious “miasma” in the atmosphere. Snow showed the outbreak came from a single contaminated well in Broad Street. He had the handle of the well removed, and the epidemic stopped almost overnight.

* Preventing cholera relies on proper sewage treatment, sanitation and water purification.

Source

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

Sanctions=Zimbabwe kids ‘eating rats’

Cholera Grips Zimbabwe’s Capital
MSF teams react to cholera outbreak in Harare

November 14, 2008

In Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to a major outbreak of cholera, which the local Ministry of Health has declared “the biggest ever in Harare.” MSF has set up cholera treatment centers (CTC) in Budiriro Polyclinic and Harare Infectious Diseases Hospital, where 500 patients have been treated to date and, on average, 38 new patients are admitted every day. About 78 percent of the patients come from two densely populated suburbs in the southwest of Harare— Budiriro and Glen View—which have a combined population of approximately 300,000 people. The outbreak has also affected people from the neighboring suburbs of Mbare, Kambuzuma, Kwanzana, and Glen Norah. Up to 1.4 million people are endangered if the outbreak continues to spread.

Since they were asked to assist with the outbreak in Harare, MSF has been providing human, medical, and logistic resources at both CTCs. MSF’s growing team is comprised of over 40 national staff nurses, logisticians, chlorinators, and environmental health workers. The latter perform an important role in reducing the spread of cholera in the community, by disinfecting the homes of those affected, following up with contacts of patients, and supervising funerals, where the traditional practice of body washing, followed by food preparation and eating without proper hand washing, is a recognized factor in the spread of cholera.

Medical Teams are Overwhelmed

MSF water and sanitation officer, Precious Matarutse, comments on the situation: “At Budiriro CTC things are getting out of hand. There are so many patients that the nurses are overwhelmed. In the observation area, one girl died sitting on a bench. The staff is utilizing each and every available room and still in the observation area patients are lying on the floor. A man came to the clinic yesterday for treatment. His wife had just died at home and that is what made his relatives realize this is serious, and they brought the man to the clinic. They wanted to know what to do with the wife’s body. People are concerned about catching cholera from others. Health education must be intensified to inform the population.”

The challenges MSF teams face in the CTCs are manifold. Vittorio Varisco, MSF logistician, describes the struggle: “It is a constant challenge to keep up with increasing patient numbers. We are running out of ward space and beds for the patients. Today patients at the Infectious Diseases Hospital are lying outside on the grass and we are setting up tents with additional beds as an overflow for the wards.” MSF doctor Bauma Ngoya explained how vital human resources are in order to effectively treat patients and contain the outbreak: “Patients need constant supervision to ensure adequate hydration, without which they will die. As patient numbers continue to increase we must continue to recruit and train nursing staff.”

A New Urgency

Cholera is no new phenomenon in crisis-shaken Zimbabwe. In some of the rural areas of the country cholera is endemic and occurs every year. However, until recent years cholera was relatively rare in urban areas of the country where treated, piped water and flush toilets exist in most homes. With the ongoing economic crisis and the constantly deteriorating living conditions these urban areas are increasingly affected. The disease is water-borne and transmitted by the oral-fecal route; hence it thrives in unsanitary conditions. Run-down infrastructure, burst sewage pipes and water cuts are mainly responsible for the outbreak, as they force people to dig unprotected wells and to defecate in open spaces. During the rainy season from November to March, heavy rains effectively flush standing sewage into unprotected wells. The fact that the recent outbreaks of cholera have commenced before the rains, is a clear indication of the deteriorating sanitary conditions and shortage of clean water, and a worrying precursor to the rainy season.

Source

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

One the young children at the therapeutic feeding center at the MSF-run Gondama Referral Center in Sierra Leone.

MSF

November 17 2008

By James Blunt

I was a reconnaissance officer in the British army in the Kosovo conflict of 1999. As such, I was the eyes and ears of my commanders, send ahead to give them information about what their main formations might encounter as they advanced. As the Vanguard, we thought we were doing a tough job, but on ­numerous occasions we would run into a hut or shed in the middle of nowhere with a queue of civilians waiting to see the doctor inside.

These doctors and nurses from all over the world were volunteers for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and selflessly risked their safety to bring medical attention to the civilian victims of man-made or natural disasters. In a celebrity-obsessed world, I clearly remember thinking that these are the people who should be celebrated.

Today in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Médecins Sans Frontières teams are working to meet the immense humanitarian needs of hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced by renewed fighting in the North Kivu ­region of Eastern DRC and are living in extremely precarious conditions. The teams are providing water and sanitation services, life saving surgical support, and primary medical care to people injured in the fighting or who have been uprooted and have fled for their lives.

Even at a time of financial crisis, people uprooted by war and conflict and those affected by disease and malnutrition remain just as vulnerable and in need of assistance. That is why it is vital that we maintain support to those in desperate need right now. Doctors Without Borders relies on the generosity of individuals to carry out its essential life-­saving work.

Contributions can be made online at doctorswithoutborders.org

Life with the MSF

Metro followed Médecins Sans Frontières onsite as the organization works to improve the ­conditions for those living in Sierra Leone, one of the worst countries to live in, according to the United Nations.

“This is what I wanted to do for a very long time,” says Monica Thallinger. It’s the 29-year-old Norwegian pediatrician’s first MSF mission.

Monica Thallinger ­enjoys working for Médecins Sans Frontières even though it’s not quite the same as her job back at the hospital in Fredrikstad, Norway: “It’s interesting, but hard work, but it also gives you a lot back.”

Malaria is just one of the diseases she never treats back home, and child mortality at the Gondama Referral Center outside Bo is much higher. Here, two or three children die every day as many parents wait too long to seek help. By then it’s often too late.

“Back home a child dies very seldom, so it’s quite tough,” Thallinger says.

But things have improved since Medecins Sans Frontieres set up their operation in the area. “You can imagine how it would be if we weren’t here.”

Even though many traditional doctors have seen the number of clients dwindle since MSF started providing free health care, it happens that patients come in with two conditions — even though it ought only be one.

“Traditional herbs are very common. Some of them actually work but some have been given herbs for months and are intoxicated when they come in.”

But still, Thallinger sees her job as very rewarding. “You see children become better even if they are very ill when they come in and it’s very rewarding to see most of them become healthy.”

Malnutrition is also a common problem in the area. “I especially remember one patient. I had seen malnourished children before, but she was just skin and bones. But for some reason she kept her head up. She was too unstable for x-rays, but we gave her TB drugs and two weeks later she was smiling. Now she is this healthy child running around and you cannot see she was sick.”

Patrick Ekstrand, Metro Sweden

Prevention part of the plan

A young girl is treated for malaria in MSF’s intensive care unit at the Gondama Referral Centre. Her condition is aggravated by herbs given to her by a traditional doctor. The case is far from unique, says MSF doctor Monica Thallinger.

In Sierra Leone, malaria is the main cause of death among children under five. Statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) explains part of the reason: only 5 per cent of children under five sleep under an insecticide-treated net. The percentage is higher around Bo, where MSF has provided communities with 65,000 insect nets. A survey done last year in the area where MSF operates shows two-thirds of children sleep under nets. Also, under-five mortality decreased by two-thirds in 2007 compared to the previous year.

Malaria is a child killer. Out of an estimated 1 million malaria deaths in Africa, 900,000 occur among children under the age of five. It is also a disease of poverty — and a cause of poverty. The WHO estimates that malaria costs Africa $12 billion US annually. Breaking this evil circle is as easy as breaking the life cycle of malaria. There is no vaccine, but insecticides, mosquito netting and medicines are part of the ­solution.

However, the GDP per capita in Sierra Leone is only $600 US and health expenditure is just over 3 per cent of the GDP — $20 US per person per year — and those without access to adequate health care have to find other ways. Those living around Bo are better off as MSF provides free health care for children and expecting mothers.

Working with community volunteers to fight malaria

MSF volunteer Mohamed Sandi tests a child for malaria.

Mohamed Sandi, a carpenter, rips open a packet of latex gloves, dons them and pricks the finger of Massah, a two-year-old girl with a fever.

A droplet of blood is placed in a paracheck, a malaria test kit similar in appearance to an off-the-shelf pregnancy test. He keeps looking at his battered digital watch. ”She’s positive,” he says after 15 minutes.

By then Massah has forgotten the sting of the lancet and snatches the foil-enclosed strip of anti-malarials from Sandi’s hand as if they were sweets.

Sandi is one of some 140 community malaria volunteers (CMV), trained by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to diagnose and treat malaria. He also knows which patients to refer to a clinic, among them pregnant women.

“Sometimes a person is very weak and at times they are bleeding from their nose and I send them to the clinic,” he says. By the end of next year the number of CMVs will double to nearly 300, as the project has been highly successful.

“Malaria was very plenty here, at times maybe seven or eight per week, but it is better now,” Sandi says. “I’m not a doctor, but people in the village call me doctor.”

Anyone can be a CMV as long as they are committed and literate — writing journals and collecting statistical data is a vital part of the job. In return for their voluntary work, other villagers supply the CMVs with food and help them tend to their gardens.

The most severe cases end up at the Gondama Referral Centre, an MSF-run hospital outside Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. The GRC provides free health care for children and expecting mothers.

“A Cesarean section at the government hospital is 100 dollars and it’s impossible for the patients to pay,” explains Noemie Larsimont, the Belgian doctor responsible for the GRC.

The world’s forgotten crises, according to MSF

Burma. Humanitarian aid is limited in Burma since the military seized power in 1962. Despite enormous needs there are few relief organizations that work in the country. Only a small amount of the regime’s budget is allocated to health care.
Central African Republic. The political crisis has caused a collapse of the health care system. Poor living conditions cause illnessess.
Colombia. After more than 40 years of civil war with the military more than 3 milion people have fled their homes. Children are forced to be soldiers.
Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the world’s poorest countries. Several hundred thousands have fled their homes the last year. The Congolese have a high prevalence of malnutrition and malaria.
Somalia. The country has lived through chaos for 15 years. But the humanitarian aid has decreased. Violence makes the situation difficult for aid organisations.
Sri Lanka. The conflict between the government and Tamil rebels LTTE has struck hard against the civilian population. Bombings, mines and suicide attempts are everyday events.
Chechnya. The Caucasus is still unstabile after the war against Russia. There is shortage of basic health care.
Zimbabwe. Political instability, inflation and shortage of food has weakened the country. Three million people have fled the country. Prospects for the future are not good, medical staff is leaving the ­country.
Malnutrition. Every year five million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition. Despite new forms of treatment, starvation is still an enormous problem, especially in Africa.
Tuberculosis. Every year 11 million people are infected with tuberculosis. Two million die from the disease. Most victims live in poor countries without sufficient health care.

Source

More information:

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC