Saturday, November 28, 2015

Recent Data on Child Health in Haiti

I performed a Google Scholar search for articles published since the earthquake in 2010. The search words were "children" and "Haiti," and the words needed to be included in the title of the article. Based on this search, only 77 articles were published in the medical literature in the last 6 years!

A 2013 study on children in Leogane revealed 21.9% of children under 5 years of age suffered from chronic malnutrition, 11.4% were underweight, and 5.1% had acute malnutrition.

A 2013 study of hospitalization for diarrhea at four public hospitals during the first two years after the earthquake revealed that diarrhea was the reason for 33.7% of 10,621 hospitalizations and responsible for 11.5% of the in-hospital deaths. Children under the age of 2 years accounted for 88.5% of admissions and 96.8% of deaths. Admissions for diarrhea were most common from January to April.

A 2014 study of stool samples revealed soil transmitted helminths (worms) in 20.7% of children aged 3 to 7 years.

A 2014 malnutrition study in children less than five years of age revealed stunted growth in 14.8% and underweight children in 16.1%. Forty-two percent of mothers stopped breastfeeding before six months.

A 2015 study of 114 children and adolescents revealed anemia in 33%. Anemia was present in 92% of children under two years, 72% of children less than 5 years, and 22% of children from 5 to 17 years.

Based on this I expect to see a lot of children with diarrhea. Many will already be nutritionally compromised and anemic. About a fifth will have worms.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Going Back to Haiti

This will be my third trip to Haiti since the devastation wrought by the earthquake in January 2010. Over a quarter of a million people died in a country of 10 million. Over 1.5 million were rendered homeless.

My first trip was in March 2010, only two months after the earthquake, and the people were still reeling from the death and destruction. I saw fear in the eyes of many mothers.  

During my second trip over Christmas 2012, the country somehow felt worse, if that could be possible. I saw resigned despair in their eyes. Sadness had replaced the fear.  

What will I see next month on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the earthquake? 

During the first two trips I worked in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel. With this trip I will work in the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, a rural community of about 14,000 people. The hospital serves a population of about 300,000 mostly poor families.