Good news in times of trouble

by Dr. Irmgard Harms/RBU,  2010/11/25

Cholera, riots and demonstrations: those are keywords for describing the current situation in Haiti. Together with a medical team, Dr Irmgard harms is treating cholera patients in the north of Haiti. The infected persons need their help urgently. Despite the prevailing terrible news, Dr Harms tells us some good news and gives us reasons to hope.

Dr Irmgard Harms (right) has travelled to Haiti for the third time this year. Her motivation: to be there for people in need. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

“We have been working hard in the past few weeks, and are still doing so. But obviously it is worth it and I have some good news: the number of patients at our hospital in Drouin is decreasing!

In the beginning of my first stay in October, up to 200 weak and critically ill cholera patients per day came to our hospital in order to be treated. In the meantime, the number of patients we take in has decreased to about 80 cholera patients – per week!

It is true that – apart from the in-patients - there are still about 240 less seriously ill persons coming to the hospital, who can effectively be treated as out-patients, but on a whole those figures are still comparably small and this is a reason to be happy. Particular good news is furthermore the fact that the percentage death rate is relatively low.

This immense improvement in the region in which the humedica team is in charge of treating cholera patients can certainly be traced back to the detailed information and explanations we provide to the population regarding cholera epidemics, to adequate medical treatment and the fact that the people are effectively provided with clean drinking water.

Although healing the patients is of course the most important motivation for me and the rest of the team, it is still good to receive open appreciation for our good work in the framework of official meetings, and to experience complete acceptance and gratitude on the part of the population in our mission area.

Two-month old Bengi was brought to the humedica hospital in Drouin undernourished and severely dehydrated. Photo: humedica/Irmgard Harms

And again and again there are those particularly touching moments, like for example the one we experienced with little Bengi. The two-month old infant was brought to the humedica hospital severely undernourished and dehydrated, and suffering from cholera.

His mother had been unable to nurse him for 14 days, since she could no longer provide milk due to the weakened state of her body. When Bengi was hospitalised, he had an estimated body weight of less than 3000 grams – I cannot tell his exact weight, since we do not dispose of scales for measuring such low weight.

We put Bengi on a drip infusion providing him with salt-sugar-solutions to compensate for his current state of dehydration and he was given medications against cholera. After a long search, the humedica team was furthermore able to procure infant milk we could give the little boy.

Only two days later, we could hardly recognise Bengi anymore; his state had improved so quickly, it seemed a miracle. His mother was almost frightened, as she was unable to grasp her son’s development and his improved state of health and now she thought the almost normal-looking child was ill. When she could finally leave hospital together with her son, she was, however, already smiling again.

Next weekend a new president will be elected in Haiti, which unfortunately causes some restrictions regarding our working possibilities. Fortunately, we have not been affected directly by riots or demonstrations; however, for safety reasons, we will travel as little as possible on the Haitian roads during the weekend.

Little Bengi after only two days in the care of the humedica doctors. Photo: humedica/Irmgard Harms

Only once we had to drive through a smaller demonstration on our way to hospital. It was a strange situation, but we did not feel threatened at any time. Furthermore, the demonstration took place close to our hospital and we felt even safer thanks to the broad acceptance of the locals living there.

I am glad to be back to Haiti after a short stay in Germany and to have to opportunity of helping the people here together with the humedica team. Day by day we can see how important our help is and how grateful people are for it. And I would like to thank you for your support from Germany.”

Please continue supporting the work of our medical team in Haiti also in future. Although the report of Dr Harms is positive and makes us hope for the best, we can still not rule out another increase of the number of cholera patients.

Therefore we will send further humedica teams to Haiti by Christmas, in order to provide the people there with medical care. Please support our efforts.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Cholera Haiti
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also donate online for the people in Haiti or support our relief efforts by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. Of your total donation of 5 euros, 4.83 euros will be channelled directly into the humedica relief projects.

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