September 13, 2018
In the past month St. Boniface Hospital has reported 27 new cases of malaria, 24 of which come from the greater Fond-des-Blancs region. Malaria is normally not a major concern in the mountainous area around Fond-des-Blancs, so this sudden spike caught the attention of the Emergency Medicine and Community Health teams. Especially concerning is that five of the patients presented with cerebral malaria, a rare and serious complication in which the malaria bacteria attacks the brain.
The Haitian Ministry of Health provides treatment medications for malaria cases in the country, and quickly delivered supplies of injectable quinine, chloroquine, and primaquine to treat the patients who are being seen at St. Boniface Hospital. However, stopping a malaria outbreak at its source is the most effective way to stop new infections, so St. Boniface’s Community Health team quickly went to work in the affected communities.
Three large Community Education Sessions were held in the affected areas, with over 1,000 people attending to learn about prevention and protection methods for avoiding malaria infections. Community Meetings were held in Savane Henry, Grande Savane Henry, Tifon and Grand Passe, with 80 community members attending and giving input on the potential sources and plans for fighting the outbreak. Additional smaller meetings were held in other communities. The Community Health Team identified a few potential sources, and made recommendations made for removing certain kinds of plants that attract mosquitoes, and emptying or filling in areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed.
The Community Health Team currently needs additional fumigation equipment, mosquito nets, and insect repellant products to distribute in the affected communities and help prevent the outbreak from spreading farther. In Grand Savane Henry, where a rapid test survey was done, 4% of the population tested positive for malaria. That number could easily rise if prevention methods aren’t distributed to the community quickly. To support their work, and the entire hospital system that is caring for patients daily, make a donation today.