The GHESKIO Field Hospital and Clinics After the Earthquake in Haiti -- Dispatch 3 From Port-au-Prince
February 26, 2010
After Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake, the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO) in Port-au-Prince became a refugee camp and an emergency field hospital, in addition to remaining a clinic for AIDS and TB patients. Over four weeks, an 80-member team from the US Department of Health and Human Services provided care at GHESKIO to more than 2,500 patients; 40 percent were under age 18.
"A looming question is what happens to disabled patients in need of additional operations and rehabilitation when the international medical teams depart," Pape and colleagues wrote.
"Childhood malnutrition is now a worsening problem; mothers have no food, pots or cooking fuel," they observed. "Children who were chronically malnourished before the earthquake are becoming severely malnourished. Children who were severely malnourished before the earthquake are dying." GHESKIO began a supplementary feeding program for pregnant women and children under age five.
GHESKIO's AIDS and Tuberculosis Clinic continues to provide outpatient care. "Since the earthquake, 85 percent of our 6,000 patients with AIDS, including 907 enrolled in therapeutic clinical studies sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health, have returned for their medications and clinical follow-up," the GHESKIO team said. "Patients are now being seen in an outdoor courtyard, since neither staff nor patients trust clinic buildings." GHESKIO is now seeing approximately 32 patients for HIV testing and counseling each day, compared with about 120 per day before the disaster.
GHESKIO's TB sanatorium at Signeau, which housed 80 patients, collapsed. Four patients died and some are still missing. The group has traced all patients who have multidrug-resistant TB, and they are all receiving medications.
The capital's National TB Sanatorium was severely damaged, and several hundred patients were dispersed to refugee camps without medications, the team said. "We have established a field sanatorium at GHESKIO," they said. "To our knowledge, the GHESKIO clinical laboratory is the only functioning tuberculosis laboratory in Haiti."
New England Journal of Medicine; doi:10.1056/NEJMpv1001787, Jean William Pape, MD; and others