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

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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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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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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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Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera
December 18 2008
By Nelson Banya

HARARE

The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

South African ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma ruled out military intervention and backed a diplomatic push as the way to end political deadlock and prevent a total collapse of the once relatively prosperous nation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Jendayi Frazer also backed a political rather than military solution but was far from hopeful about talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition on forming a unity government.

“We certainly think that the power sharing deal is on life support, it’s close to dead,” Frazer said in Mozambique.

That cast doubt on comments from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that he hoped for agreement this week.

The latest cholera figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva included a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, west of Harare, where more than 378 cases and 121 deaths were recorded, it said in a statement.

It added that more than 20,580 people had been affected by cholera since August.

The spread of the disease, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration and is normally easy to treat, has increased international pressure on Mugabe. Western countries have renewed calls on the veteran leader to step down.

Prominent figures, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Mugabe to go or for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Zimbabwe.

When asked in an interview with South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio whether he favoured sending troops to Zimbabwe, ANC leader Zuma said: “No. Why military intervention when there is no war? We should be pressurising them to see the light.”

MEDIATION

South Africa’s ANC-led government, however, has continued to back the regional SADC group’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is leading the mediation of the power-sharing talks.

Mugabe, 84, agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September, raising hopes that a unity government could reverse the country’s economic meltdown and rebuild basic services.

Inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled out of control. Prices are doubling every 24 hours and unemployment is above 80 percent. Millions have fled to South Africa and neighbouring countries is search of work and food.

South African President Motlanthe announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s neighbours would launch an urgent humanitarian campaign. Motlanthe’s spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said on Thursday it would focus on agricultural aid and would be non-partisan to ensure it could not be used as a political weapon.

The amount of the aid had yet to be finalised and was likely to depend on how much countries could give, he said.

Negotiations between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change are deadlocked over who should control key ministries, and there are growing fears the agreement will unravel and lead to violence.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March presidential election but without an absolute majority. He pulled out of the run-off in June, saying scores of his supporters had been killed.

The opposition says attacks have picked up again. They say more than 20 people have been abducted from their homes and offices in the past two weeks. The government has denied the accusations.

Source

Zimbabwe: MSF/Doctors Without Boarders, responds to worst cholera outbreak in years
More than 11,000 patients seen by MSF/Doctors without Boarders

December 12 2008

MSF/Doctors without Boarders, has seen more than 11,000 patients since August in Zimbabwe’s worst cholera outbreak in years and has opened dozens of cholera treatment centres throughout the country. Cases have been found in nearly all provinces. More than 500 national and international MSF staff members are working to identify new cases and to treat patients in need of care.

Harare has been the center of the outbreak; MSF has treated more than 6,000 people in the densely populated capital. A town on the border with South Africa, Beitbridge, has also been hard hit. MSF has provided care to more than 3,000 people with suspected cases of cholera.

Zimbabwe has had major outbreaks of cholera before – it is endemic in certain rural areas – but until the last few years it has been relatively rare in urban areas.

“The scale and the sheer numbers of infection especially in Harare is unprecedented,” says an epidemiologist for MSF who has worked periodically in Zimbabwe for the past seven years. He explains that the key reasons for the outbreak are the inability to access clean water, burst and blocked sewage systems and uncollected garbage overflowing in the streets. “The fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the country’s health system can’t cope.”

MSF is working in two cholera treatment centers (CTCs) which are located in existing health facilities in Harare. The two main CTCs saw in total more than 2,000 people with cases of suspected cholera in the first week of December.

An MSF emergency coordinator in Harare describes the situation: “Imagine a cholera ward with dozens of people under the most basic conditions. For instance, there is only a little electricity so there is hardly any light. It is difficult for the doctors and nurses to even see the patients they are treating. The nurses have to monitor multitudes of IV bags to make sure they don’t run dry which is also difficult to do in the dark and when there are so many patients.”

In Beitbridge, MSF has set up cholera treatment centers run mainly by MSF staff using supplies shipped in from all over the world. The peak of the emergency was unusually early in Beitbridge, which resulted in a high mortality rate within the first couple of days of the severe outbreak in the town. By the fourth day, however, MSF had established a cholera treatment centre and the mortality rate eventually dropped from 15% to less than 1%.

Because MSF has been in the country since 2000 running HIV programs, it has been able to react from the ground and quickly bring in emergency cholera response units.

The outbreak is particularly worrying as it began well before the rainy season. A major concern is that once the heavy rains start, unprotected water sources will become contaminated, causing the further spread of cholera. The rainy season normally starts in November and continues through March, although the heavy rains have yet to be seen in some areas.

An additional challenge has been that government health workers in certain areas, particularly in Harare, are on strike. This has required MSF to rapidly recruit hundreds of nurses and other staff to handle the influx of cholera cases. Significant time and energy is needed to train the new staff, adding considerably to the workload of the existing staff.

MSF has also conducted exploratory missions in rural communities and responded to scattered reports of cholera cases. Low numbers of cases have been found in a number of small villages; MSF established small cholera treatment units (CTUs) where necessary. MSF has eight CTUs in five districts spread over the Manicaland and Mashvingo provinces in the eastern part of Zimbabwe and treated more than 770 patients.

A town on the border with Mozambique, Nyamapanda, also has been affected. When MSF arrived in early November the team found about 150 cholera patients and helped set up one cholera treatment center in the town, as well as four others with the Ministry of Health in the surrounding areas. In total, 1,600 patients have been seen in Mudzi District.

MSF will continue to monitor the situation and treat people in the most affected areas, as well as send emergency staff and supplies to various locations in Zimbabwe where new cases arise.

“A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for several months,” the MSF epidemiologist says. “MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come.”

Source

CARE Fights Cholera in Zimbabwe
Humanitarian group says as little as $10 could save a life

December 12 2008

Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

Children play with stagnant raw sewage at the Machipisa suburb in Harare November 28, 2008. Fast-spreading cholera is “the tip of the iceberg” of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday. Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

HARARE, Zimbabwe

CARE is ramping up food aid and sanitation programs in Zimbabwe as part of the international effort to combat one of the worst cholera outbreaks the world has seen in recent years. The humanitarian organization also is calling on the public to help. As little as $10 could save a life. That’s what it takes to provide a household with a bar of soap, a water container and two months worth of aqua-tabs for water purification.

The epidemic has already killed more than 780 people and infected at least 16,400. Almost half the country’s population will be dependant on food aid by January, humanitarian officials project. Unfortunately, because they require large gatherings, food distributions are a perfect conduit for the spread of cholera. So CARE, one of the World Food Program’s largest partners in Zimbabwe, is providing sanitation training and improved access to water, too, in an effort to serve at least 900,000 people.

“More than five million people in the country need food aid right now,” said Fridah Kalumba, CARE’s assistant country director in Zimbabwe. “But with the cholera outbreak, we need to ensure people are protected during distributions, so the disease doesn’t
spread further.”
Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

A girl collects drinking water from a stream in Glen Norah, Harare November 27 2008. Zimbabwe, which is battling a serious cholera outbreak amid a worsening economic crisis, is set to get vaccines from China to fight the disease, state media reported on Thursday. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))
The crisis is about to enter a pivotal stage. Health workers fear
that the coming rainy season, combined with families traveling
home from urban centers for Christmas, could cause cholera cases to soar in rural districts.

“Cholera outbreaks are usually localized,” said Teresa Chiesa, a
CARE health expert working to stem the crisis in Zimbabwe. “I have never before seen one like this with so many communities over
such a wide area being affected at the same time. It’s a horrific situation.”

CARE, which has been working in Zimbabwe since 1992, employs nearly 600 staffers in the provinces of Masvingo and Midlands. That has allowed CARE to coach people on proper sanitary measures in food distribution centers, schools, orphanages and seniors homes. CARE is supplying families with water jugs, chlorine, water
treatment tablets and soap. And the humanitarian group is building
hand-washing stations at critical sites.

In the longer term, if CARE can raise sufficient funds, it will launch a program to develop a secure supply of clean water. CARE needs $750,000 to carry out its preventative education program and a plan to drill new wells in water-starved communities. Drilling one borehole alone costs approximately $25,000.

“If we do not secure the water supply for these people in the long term,” Chiesa said, “the country will be looking at another outbreak next year, and the year after that, and so on.”

Source

Save the Children, )


Zimbabwe cholera epidemic ‘worsening’ says aid agency

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is not under control, Save the Children said today.

December 12 2008
Speaking from the agency’s HQ in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare today, Rachel Pounds, a Save the Children country director said: “If anything is certain in the chaos of Zimbabwe today it is that the cholera outbreak is not under control. According to the latest figures 775 people have died so far. Save the Children knows this is an underestimate – not least because the figures do not include areas in which we work and where we know there have been many unrecorded deaths.

“Also, the percentage of people who are dying having contracted cholera in the first place is way higher than normal for this disease, in some areas. With even the most basic health care on hand, you would expect to see a death rate of only one or two percent. In some areas of Zimbabwe a third of those who have contracted the infection are dying.”

Ms Pounds added that said that the crisis was almost certainly worsening. “Reliable figures are hard to come by, but there is much evidence out there that this crisis is growing, not diminishing, especially as we know there are many people can’t get to cholera centres. Given that this is a disease spread by unclean water and exacerbated by hunger which weakens victims, this problem has clearly not gone away. Water and health services have collapsed and more than half the 10 million population needs emergency food aid. This deadly disease will continue to spread unless we get more money and more resources to halt the contamination and treat victims promptly.”

Save the Children urged the international community to listen to aid agencies working in Zimbabwe and to Zimbabweans themselves living with the horror of hunger and cholera. “It is ordinary families who are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and it is to them the world must listen,” said Ms Pounds. “They should listen to the mothers whose babies have died, and to the children waiting outside health clinics to see if their mothers or fathers will come out alive. That’s the reality here.”

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 200,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.
For more information
Please contact the Save the Children media unit on +44 207 012 6836 / +44 7831 650 409

Notes to Editors

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has now reached unprecedented proportions. A cholera epidemic is already crippling the country, which has killed over 775 people.

Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year, over half the country’s population. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 700,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.

Source

Zimbabwe’s meltdown in figures
December 18

2008The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

Below are some details of Zimbabwe’s decline in figures:

* INFLATION

Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July, the latest month for which a figure has been announced. Economists think it is now much higher and say prices are doubling daily.

* GDP

Gross domestic product has fallen every year since 2000, down 10.4 percent in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the economy shrank 6.1 percent in 2007.

Per capita GDP was estimated at $200 in 2007, from nearer $900 in 1990. Zimbabwe has the world’s fastest shrinking economy for a country not at war, according to the World Bank.

* INCOME

An estimated 83 percent of the population was living on below $2 a day by 2005. Since then, the situation has only worsened.

* EXPORTS

Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between 1997 and 2001. UBS forecast this would decline to 9.9 percent in 2007.

* AGRICULTURE

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize. The U.N. agricultural production index for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in 2000 to just over 74 in 2005.

Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last season against national demand of 2 million tonnes.

* GOLD

Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a low of 125 kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis forced mines to close.

* UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of work and food.

* AID

Aid agencies say 5 million people — almost half the population — might need food aid by early 2009.

* IMF ARREARS

Zimbabwe fell into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In February 2008, it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in arrears for three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the IMF has suspended financial and technical assistance.

* LIFE EXPECTANCY

Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9 years in 2005, according to U.N. figures.

The mortality rate for children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in 2005 from 76 deaths in 1990.

* CHOLERA

The official death toll from a cholera epidemic since August is at least 1,111 with over 20,581 infected, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe.

* HIV/AIDS

In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent among adults aged 15 to 49 — the fourth highest in the world. It causes the death of about 3,200 people per week in the country of 13.3 million.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell from 26 percent in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high mortality and emigration rather than prevention measures.

* ANTHRAX

Save the Children said this month that an anthrax outbreak in the south west had killed three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.

Source

They left out Sanctions of course. Which has enhanced Zimbabwe’s problem substantially.

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

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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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

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

By Tichaona Sibanda

November 18 2008

About one hundred health workers were injured on Tuesday, some of them seriously, after heavily armed riot police baton-charged their peaceful protest march in central Harare.

The health workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals had just embarked on a peaceful procession towards the Ministry of Health offices, to express concern against the total collapse of the health delivery system.

Dr Simba Ndoda, one of the protest organizers and a victim of the police brutality, told us the authorities went to extremes in dealing with the unarmed health workers. He said over one thousand health workers, including doctors, nurses, radiographers, administrators and pharmacists, had gathered at Parirenyatwa hospital for the protest march.

However hundreds of police in riot gear deployed outside the hospital and cordoned off all link roads. They stopped the health workers and unleashed a baton charge, which left dozens of members of the health fraternity injured.

The police flushed out leaders of the protest march and manhandled them before dragging some of them to waiting police vehicles. Unconfirmed reports say a number of protesters were hauled off to different police stations.

‘This was supposed to be a peacful demonstration. We were unarmed. We only had our uniforms and stethoscopes. We tried to reason with the police so that we could proceed with the march but like a lightining bolt they just set upon us, without warning and savagely beat us, inflicting serious injuries on many of our compatriots,’ Dr Ndoda said.

The strike action comes amid the failure of the government to contain the spread of cholera, which has so far killed hundreds of people, due to lack of medicines and drugs. The protesters were also demanding that the government review their salaries, which are not enough to even provide food for a family. ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Pay health workers properly’ were some of the banners carried.

The country’s health system, once among the best in Africa, collapsed under the weight of the world’s highest inflation rate, officially estimated at 231 million percent, but believed to be over 5 quintillion percent. Most hospitals are now unable to provide even basic medicines.

Dr Ndoda said conditions at state hospitals were ‘traumatising,’ explaining that he had personally seen some of his patients ‘die unnecessarily’ because of lack of drugs, medicines and basic equipment.

‘It is very disturbing. There are no drugs, no equipment and now there is no manpower. The country’s three major referral hospitals have been closed and the government has still not said a word about it.

So how are the ordinary citizens without money going to survive? Asked Dr Ndoda. He said the protest was also meant to show their outrage at the lack of political will by the government to resolve the health crisis.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human rights strongly condemned the manhandling and ruthless thrashing of health workers at the hands of the police.A doctor who asked not to be named said it was strange the government had resources to deal with a peaceful march, but was doing nothing about the cholera pandemic that threatened the lives of up to 1.4 million people.

A statement from Doctors without Borders said the whole country is at risk if cholera continues to spread unchecked. Officially state media reports that only 73 people have died of the disease, but independent estimates put the figure closer to one thousand. Many tens of thousands have fallen ill.
In Beitbridge, cholera has killed 36 and 431 have been hospitalised at the border town since last week. Beitbridge medical officer Taikaitei Kanongara said they expected the number of victims to rise.

Source

Police violently disrupt  Protest

November 18, 2008

The police before they charged.

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE – Anti-riot police on Tuesday violently disrupted a protest march by hundreds of disgruntled workers from Harare hospitals as they sought to register with the authorities  their mounting concern over the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health delivery system.

The police blocked a peaceful march by more than 700 hospital workers who attempted to leave Parirenyatwa Hospital to present a petition to the Minister of Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa at his offices at Mukwati Building in the city.

The marchers comprised doctors, nurses, nurse aids and general workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals.

According to Dr Simba Ndoda, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, there were representatives from Chinhoyi and Kadoma hospitals, which have also been forced to close down due to the crisis.

Relating the incident over the phone, Dr Ndoda said the police descended on the marchers in the hospital grounds and assaulted them.

“The police beat us thoroughly,” he said, “They stopped us as we were about to exit the grounds of Parirenyatwa and they beat us up and followed right into the nurses’ homes.

“As I am speaking, we are in hiding at Harare Hospital. We hear police are looking for us.”

He said police had initially informed the protestors not to proceed with the march “for political reasons” as they feared it had potential to grow into fully blown riots by disgruntled Zimbabweans.

Said Dr Ndoda, “We had asked for approval to go ahead with the march but the police denied us permission, citing political reasons. The police said they feared some people would join the march and the situation would become uncontrollable.

“We wanted people to now the real reasons why doctors are on strike. The State media is quick to misinform the public that doctors are insensitive to the plight of ordinary people who are dying in their thousands in hospitals because of the strike by doctors.

“We wanted people to know that while we have genuine reasons to go on strike because of perennially poor working conditions, it is still not possible for us to perform our duties as there is nothing to use.”

According to Dr Ndoda, almost 99 percent of Zimbabweans rely on government hospitals.

Primrose Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights co-coordinator said Tuesday’s march was more than a strike by hospital workers.

“This was more than a strike,” she said.

“A strike is where you stop going to work for one simple reason. This time we are decrying the total collapse of the whole health system.

“This is an issue where we have all reasons to be concerned. We cannot continue to watch helplessly while patients die in thousands.

“Doctors have been on strike for weeks but nothing is being done to address the situation.”

She said an earlier meeting with the permanent secretary of health to register their concerns did not bear any fruit as nothing was done to address the situation.”

By the time of going to press, there were no official reports of any arrests or casualties.

But baton-wielding anti-riot policemen continued to cordon off the whole Parirenyatwa hospital premises late into the afternoon. Police trucks were patrolling the grounds.

Zimbabwe’s government hospitals stopped operating nearly three weeks ago due to a strike by doctors over poor working conditions.

Critically ill patients have been turned away ever since. An emergency room is in operation at Parirenyatwa hospital.

Mpilo hospital, Bulawayo’s biggest hospital also closed last Wednesday, citing similar reasons.

Thousands of patients are being referred to private hospitals which charge for their services in US dollars.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Minister of Health Dr Parirenyatwa were fruitless.

But government still maintains the health situation in the country is still under control as the country’s central bank is being tasked to procure scarce drugs from abroad.

Source

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

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

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

From Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders)

November 13 2008

Since 1998, civilians in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been caught in the middle of a battle for control between local and foreign militias, the Congolese army, and UN forces. In late 2007, new waves of fighting caused more massive displacements of an already weakened population.

In August 2008, the situation became even more severe with heavy, sustained fighting. The population has had to flee again, without adequate shelter, water, medical care, or food, and under the continuous threat of insecurity. MSF is running projects throughout North Kivu province, providing emergency medical assistance, as well as primary and secondary health care, water and sanitation assistance, and distribution of essential items such as shelter materials and blankets.

DRC: MSF Continues to Treat Displaced People in North Kivu

November 13, 2008

MSF remains very concerned about the many people still fleeing the ongoing violence. Many displaced and local residents are in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare, and basic items such as blankets and shelter materials.

Displaced People in Congo Remain in Urgent Need of Assistance

November 10, 2008

MSF teams are continuing to work in Goma and in other towns and villages in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization remains very concerned about the many people still on the move after fleeing recent fighting. While some displaced people are returning to their places of origin around North Kivu, many of the displaced and local residents continue to be in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare and basic items like blankets and shelter materials.

There are many more reports at the site.

Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders) do wonderful work.

These are men and women with a lot of courage and hearts of gold. They risk their lives to help others. What they do is incredible.

They work in about 60 countries around the world, helping those in need. Their time, dedication and love makes a difference in the lives of many.

This is a small glimpse into the help they provide to those who are suffering in dire need.

Médecins sans Frontière

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

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 3:06 am  Comments Off on Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC  
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