Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Haiti-Early Assessment of Hurricane Damage


Overflowing river in Gros Morne caused by run-off from deforestation.
Five days after Hurricane Matthew smashed the south coast of Haiti and cut a swath through the southern peninsula, we can begin to assess the extent of the physical destruction and the scope of the human tragedy caused by the category 4 storm. In this early stage as foreign NGO damage assessment and needs teams reach the affected areas, it will be important to coordinate relief efforts through the Haitian Government and its agencies (The Haitian Red Cross, Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Haitian Civil Protection Department) to avoid the chaos and resentment that occurred after the 2010 earthquake.

I am relieved to report that the Artibinite Department, and specifically the Medicine For Peace programs in Gros Morne did not suffer extensive damage. MFP health workers and our colleagues are safe. The Alma Mater Hospital and its dispensaries are intact, although roads are washed out and fear of mudslides prevent attending to patients in the rural dispensaries. Thankfully, the feared destruction of homes and municipal facilities in the town of Gros Morne, as occurred during the 2008 hurricanes Gustav and Hanna, did not materialized.

The Departments of Sud, Grand Anse, and Nippes in south west Haiti were not as fortunate. One hundred and forty-five miles-an-hour winds, torrential rains and swelling seas flooded towns, knocked out communications, and destroyed homes in its path. More than a million people were affected, 62,000 people were evacuated, and 750,000 Haitians are now in need of assistance.  Aerial reconnaissance revealed major destruction of the key cities of Jeremie, Les Cayes, and Port Salut, and on the ground assessment teams report 70% of the homes uninhabitable. The rising death toll, an all too frequent phenomenon in Haiti, is now approaching 800.

The state of children. The school cycle has been interrupted with approximately 200 schools flooded, destroyed, or used as shelters. The Government  announced reopening of the schools on October 10, which seemed unlikely for the nearly 100,000 affected students. Return to school is critical in order for children to participate in the national school lunch program, an important source of nutrition for Haitian children. An additional two thousand children were evacuated from orphanages.

Food and water availability. A number of U.N. (e.g. World Food Program) and Governmental Agencies have begun the delivery and distribution of life sustaining food to the affected areas. Approximately 50 metric tons (primarily rice, pulses-beans, peas, lentils, and oil) is in the process of being distributed. One ton of food will only sustain 400 individuals for a week, which speaks to the urgency of needs assessments, transport and distribution of additional desperately needed food.

Potable water is also critical, and Government teams and their NGO partners are attempting to stock strategic water stations. A number of water trucks have arrived in the affected area, and large water bladders have been supplied to a number of key hospitals. Water purification systems, chlorine tablets and water testing kits are being delivered to Haiti by foreign NGO’s.

Communication. The bridge between Post-au-Prince and the south (on National Route 2) collapsed immediately during the storm isolating the south from the rest of the country for a number of days. A temporary bridge has been constructed. Most of the major roads were not accessible during the storm but travel between the major cities in the south (e.g. Les Caye and Jeremie, Anse-de-Veau and Baderes) is now possible. Telephone service was unavailable in the affected area during the storm but Digicel now reports service   gradually being restored and now 30% of the south west is being covered.

Public health.  There were conflicting reports on the damage to health facilities but it now appears that the major hospitals in Jeremie, and other populations centers are at least partially operating.

The major threats after the storm are a surge in water-born infections and an increased incidence of mosquito transmitted diseases. Flooding, overflow of sewage and contamination of drinking water threatens to increase the case load of cholera, already endemic in the country. Last year, 27,000 cases were reported in Haiti, one of the highest incidence rates in the world. The center of the cholera epidemic was in the Artibinite department, considerably north of the hurricane's path. Nevertheless, officials are alarmed because there have been 30 new cases of cholera reported in the affected areas in the few days following the hurricane. More alarming are 10 new cases reported in Gonaives, a city out of the storm’s path, perhaps signaling a country-wide explosion in cholera cases. Haitian authorities are on alert and are heightening cholera prevention and containment measures.

Stagnant water after flooding breeds mosquitoes, and public health officials have been alerted to implement measures to control mosquito populations to prevent a spike in cases of malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, and zika.

In summary, we are in an early stage of damage assessment, but emergency needs (e.g. food, water, and shelter) are already being addressed. Assessment in the field by teams that include logisticians, public health officers, sanitation and water experts, engineers, and epidemiologists are assisting the Haitian Government and its humanitarian partners to develop a strategic plan to avoid preventable deaths in this critical period in the aftermath the storm.


This summary was compiled from information obtained in conversations with MFP health workers and colleagues in the field,  and  reports from Haiti Ministry of Health, U.N. Children's Fund, the U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Program, Agency France-Presse, Humanity Road, USAID,MAP International, and Doctors Without Borders.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

MFP Celebrates 25 Years in Photos



Medicine for Peace: The First Twenty-five Years


Medicine For Peace (MFP) was established in 1991 by Dr. Michael Viola following a medical mission of American academic physicians to Iraq after the Gulf War. Our founding mandate was to provide medical care to mothers and children who were victims of war. Subsequently, MFP has established health  care programs in the Middle East, El Salvador,  Bosnia, and expanded its mission to care for victims of extreme poverty in the Artibinite region of Haiti. MFP operates a clinic in Maryland for victims of torture  who seek asylum in the United States.  We are a community of like-minded nurses, doctors, educators, and concerned individuals committed to combating injustice and health disparity in many parts of the world.

Since 1991, MFP has partnered with The Children’s Scholarship Fund for Girls, directed by Kathleen Crane, which is  dedicated to educating and counseling impoverished Hispanic girls.


2015

MFP reaches milestone in Haiti: 5,000 women screened and treated for cervical and breast cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and other gynecological disorders.

Orna Dieuaume, RN, and Erlose Cerfrere, RN, talk to women about cancer prevention and living a healthy life style in the Women's Health Clinic in Haiti.

2013

MFP expands Women's Heath Initiative in Gros Morne, Haiti by utilizing mobile clinics that screen for women's cancer and other gynecological disorders at 7 rural dispensaries.
2012

MFP Health Center for Torture Victims issues report on State-sponsored torture in Ethiopia.

Lewis Marshall, MD, and Michael Viola, MD review patient data in MFP report, "Cruelty and Denial: State Sponsored Torture in Ethiopia".
2011

The Children's Scholarship Fund For Girls expands programs to support primary school children in Gros Morne, Haiti. 

Kathleen Crane in a classroom with children supported by the CSFG in Haiti.

CSFG launches summer program for Hispanic girls  in music and fine arts at USDAN summer camp for the arts on Long Island, NY.

2010

MFP responds to earthquake in Haiti by constructing single-family homes for the displaced in Gros Morne.

MFP launches its Women's Health Initiative at Alma Mater Hospital in Gros Morne, Haiti. 


Orna Dieuaume, RN, Cecile Seide, RN, and Sr. Clarice Carroll, RN, NP, in the Women"s Health Clinic at the dispensary in Pendu, Haiti.
2009

Medicine For Peace Health Center for Torture Victims opens in Hyattsville, MD.

MFP physicians, nurses , translators, and befrienders assist patients who have fled their country and are seeking asylum in the United States. The photo includes Evelyne Tchoukochuoko, MD, Michael Viola, MD, Kathleen Crane, Lewis Marshall, MD, Samarawit Woldegiogis, and Pat Clausen, RN, NP. 
2005

MFP issues seminal  report "Civilian Health in Iraq: Assessment of Public Hospitals in Baghdad". The report concludes that health care in hospitals in Baghdad had deteriorated to a level that  presents an ongoing danger to both patients and staff. New York Newsday states that "in the first study of its kind, Medicine For Peace" offers a snapshot  on the state of hospital care in Iraq, and not surprisingly it is a bleak picture". 

2004

At a time when most AID organizations are leaving Iraq because of the violence, MFP sends a team to Baghdad to assess health care facilities under the Coalition occupation.


Bombed commercial building in downtown Baghdad,
2003

The Medicine For Peace Executive Committee  unequivocally condemns the proposed invasion of Iraq. The Committee felt compelled to issue a statement because of the extremely high number of childhood deaths that MFP teams observed after the First Gulf War, and the vulnerability of the Iraqi civilian population to modern warfare, particularly strategic bombing.

2001

MFP ends its child mental health program in Bosnia and sends its first medical team to Gros Morne, Haiti

MFP supports rural clincs in Shaab and Decostierre, in the Artininite region of Haiti.  



Sr. Jaquilline Picard, RN, examines a mother and child ain the mountain top clinic in Shaab, Haiti.

1999

CSFG recipient receives scholarship to Columbia University.


The CSFG supports and nurtures  Hispanic girls in primary and secondary school.Following graduation from high school, CSFG recipients have have gone on the receive scholarships in more than 15 highly competitive Universities.
1997
In collaboration with Bosnian Muslims, MFP establishes a school-based mental health project in the ethnically cleansed town of Kozarac, Bosnia. The celebrated Sarajevo newspaper Oslobdodenje praises the health program in an article entitled, "Life returns to Kozarac".


1996

MFP partners with the Prijador Women's Association to perform medical and psychological evaluations of survivors from the ethnic cleansing of Kozarac  during the Bosnian War.         

Cheryl Kennedy, MD,, far left, and Judy English, RN, NP, far right, with members of the Prijador Women's Association. 
1995

MFP sends medical team to Bosnia during the war in the Balkans.

Lewis Marshall, MD, at the refugee camp in Tuzla, Bosnia. Refugees fled from the massacre at Srebrenica, the largest human rights atrocity in Europe since the Second World War.
1994

MFP negotiates the release of an American prisoner from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
With the assistance of the Jordanian Red Crescent, MFP delivers 500,000 dollars in pediatric medication to hospitals and clinics in southern Iraq.

MFP is expelled from Iraq for criticizing the Baathist Government about human rights abuses.

1993

MFP presents findings concerning the health of Iraqi children to U.S. Congressman and staff, and State Department officials.
Susan Meiselis produces award winning documentary, "Opening Hearts", about MFP's work with Iraqi children. 
MFP and Iraqi colleagues conduct a nutrition study in the Hurria district, a poor section of Baghdad.
1992

Michael Viola meets with physicians and political leaders of the opposition in Suchitoto after the civil war in El Salvador

MFP sends medicine to besieged villages during the war.
Dr. Michael Viola confers with physicians and political leaders, including Javier Martinez, foreground, former opposition commander who subsequently became mayor of Suchitito. The group discussed solutions to public health problems in post-war El Salvador.
MFP opens clinic in Baghdad and initiates Iraqi Children's Project.


Mary Silverman, RN, MPH and Chris Hansen, MD. MPH transporting Iraqi child to the United States for open heart surgery in what New York Newsday called the Medicine For Peace. "Baghdad to New York Save-a-Child Shuttle".





Kathleen Crane with children in Iraqi Kurdistan after returning child to her family following successful open heart surgery in the United States.
1991

Children's Scholarship Fund For Girls established on Long Island, NY by Kathleen Crane.


The first girls who entered the CSFG program fled the war in El Salvador to seek refuge in the United States.


Medicine For Peace forms a partnership with the CSFG.

Michael Viola establishes Medicine For Peace after First Gulf War.

MFP releases its public health findings in the  report, "Health Crisis in Baghdad". 




Dr. Michael Viola at the bedside of a malnourished child at the Saddam City Hospital in Baghdad during his initial mission to Iraq. Shortly thereafter he founded Medicine For Peace. Photo clip from William LiPera's award-winning documentary , "Children of the Cradle" which showed the effects of the Coalition bombing and U.N. sanctions on the health of Iraqi children.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HAPPY HAITIAN FLAG DAY

Jan Jak the red rooster leads the barnyard animals holding his  Haitian flag strong.
Every Haitian is fiercely proud of their flag, and knows that it symbolizes how the Great Slave Revolt established the first free republic ruled by former slaves. Tradition holds that Jean Jacques Dessaline created the flag on May 18, 1804 by  shredding the white out of the French tri-color flag. His God-daughter Catherine Flon sewed the red and blue bands together, and is much honored for her role in creating the flag. The red band is said to symbolize the African slaves and the red those Haitians of mixed blood. An alternative view is that the red and blue are the colors of Ogou, the Vodan god of war.

The coat of arms show palms symbolizing independence, and a trophy of weapons representing the struggle to preserve the freedom of the republic. Every Haitian is also aware that the Great Slave Revolt continues as the people are still enslaved by poverty and illiteracy.

Not only do the Haitian people hold their flag dear to them, but the animals do as well, as shown in the photo above. The painting is taken from a children’s book , Jan Jak, The Rooster Couldn’t Wake Up, by Medicine For Peace Board Member, K.J.Crane. and three young Haitian artists. The final picture in the book shows Jan-Jak, a talented dancer, leading the farm animals up a hill, his arm raised high holding his beloved Haitian flag.

BŌN FÈT DRAPO !!!