News / Americas

Health Workers in Haiti Fear Spike in Infectious Disease

Dr. Megan Coffee examines a patient named Stanley who has tuberculosis at Port-au-Prince Hospital
Dr. Megan Coffee examines a patient named Stanley who has tuberculosis at Port-au-Prince Hospital

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
Jeff Swicord

Port-au-Prince General Hospital is the largest hospital in Haiti.  Some of its buildings were damaged during the earthquake, but with the help of international medical organizations it has remained open.  On any given day, more than 300 patients arrive looking for care.  More than two months after the quake, doctors are seeing less of the crush injuries they saw right after the earthquake.  Now, as the rainy season begins, they're concerned about infectious disease.

Dr. Megan Coffee is an infectious disease specialist from California. She has spent the past two months volunteering at Port au Prince General Hospital.

She's concerned about the likely spread of infectious disease in Haiti.  She said the medical needs of the population have changed since the January earthquake.

She said doctors rarely see the cuts, crushed limbs, and broken bones that were common early on.

"These tents use to be all orthopedic injuries, all people who had been injured in the earthquake," said Dr. Coffee.  "Now some of them are post-op patients, post surgical patients. Some are still patients remaining from the earthquake."

With the rainy season beginning and much of the population in closely confined spaces in tent cities, health workers are on the lookout for infectious and water-borne diseases.

"The problems of typhoid and malaria are going to grow with tent cities, with people who don't have the best sanitation, and, having sitting water which is the cause of both those diseases," Dr. Coffee added.

Tuberculosis, a highly contagious respiratory disease, is another concern. Of the 300 patients who come to the hospital each day, about 4 have tuberculosis.  

Stanley is one of them.

"[Stanley] came in with tuberculosis that had filled up his entire left lung, and had also started to fill up his heart," explained Dr. Cofee.  "He came in quite ill, basically unable to breath and needed to have a tube put in to drain the fluid."

Dr. Coffee says in Haiti, patients often wait until a condition reaches a crisis stage before seeking treatment. And that makes recovery more difficult.  

"It is really important for people like him to be able to be treated," she added.  "Because otherwise, if they were to go home without full treatment, they would be quite infectious to all of their neighbors."

Stanley has been in the hospital for two months. Half that time was spent with tubes in his chest.

Dr. Coffee says there's no way to tell if malaria, typhoid, and tuberculosis are on the upswing since the earthquake. But with the rainy season looming, they could spread quickly.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More