March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, which aims to raise awareness of the fact that tuberculosis (TB) remains an epidemic in much of the world; it causes the deaths of about 1.5 million people each year, most of whom live in developing countries like Haiti. While the need for efficient and expert TB care is greater than ever, for many in Haiti, access to appropriate diagnosis and treatment capabilities cannot be taken for granted.
Meet the Joseph family. They are from Marmelade, in northern central Haiti. The children, Iverlanka and Maksendjy, fell ill months ago. They were experiencing intermittent fever, weight loss, swelling, and general fatigue. They went to their nearest health center, but diagnostic capabilities there failed to identify the children’s illnesses. The situation was the same when they made the trek to Port-au-Prince to a health center near their family members’ home.
“We went all over the country to find care,” said father, Jean-Baptiste. Ultimately, they were referred to HAS, renowned in Haiti for excellent pediatric services.
The HAS head of pediatrics, Dr. Maurice Toussaint, admitted the children and ran a series of diagnostic tests, including the routine lab tests for TB and a chest x-ray. Both children tested positive, though Maksendjy’s case was more advanced than his sister’s. To reduce the chance of further spread of disease, HAS tests all family members in addition to the patient(s) admitted. Jean-Baptiste and his wife, Agnes, were also tested using the tuberculin skin test; Jean-Baptiste tested positive for tuberculosis and pleural effusion, and was referred for treatment closer to their home. Because their cases were complicated, the children stayed at HAS for the majority of their treatment before being referredto their local hospital. Dr. Toussaint monitored Maksendjy and Iverlanka’s progress carefully. After a month-long stay, the children were determined to be stable and were safely transferred.
“Before this, my son could hardly sleep or eat, but now he is getting better,” says Agnes happily. “The doctors are great here. This is the first time we’ve been to HAS but we felt welcome from the beginning.”
HAS is proud to be part of the fight against TB because of cases like this. Today and every day, we are spreading awareness about this curable disease and collaborating with our partners in Haiti to make high-quality healthcare accessible to all.
The average patient with TB remains at HAS more than twice as long as the average inpatient stay.
HAS admits an average of 120 TB patients every year.
Education, testing, and treatment are provided free of charge to HAS patients with TB, representing a significant investment for the hospital.