February 22, 2010
For Save the Children's mobile health teams in Haiti, just getting to work is a daily reminder of the huge challenges facing Port-au-Prince. And arriving at work, well that’s a window to the debilitating impact of life in the crowded camps.
I’d heard of scabies, but I never really knew what it was or how heartbreaking it could be until I visited the camp at Village Gastron Magron. I met babies and young children covered with large patches of blisters from the microscopic mite burrowed under their skin. It was tough to see. Reginal David, just 9 months old, had scratched his arms and legs raw from the intense itching.
He cried and whimpered through the doctor’s examination, and sadly was too young to understand relief was finally on its way. I could see the strain her baby’s constant misery was putting on his mother, Bernadette Esterline. At least, among her many problems, this was one a doctor could help her fix with a prescription and instructions to disinfect washed clothes in the sun. Bernadette lost her home in the earthquake and doesn’t know where her husband is or if he survived.
Dr. Joachim Abdias explained that scabies is passed through contact and clothes that are shared. It flourishes in the camps because people are living so close together and, with water in scarce supply, have limited ability to wash.
Pictured below is one-year-old Davidson who also is suffering from scabies.
Scabies is one of the most visible, but hardly the most dangerous of the many health problems afflicting families who have already lost their homes, relatives, means of income, and dependable access to food.
Dr. Abdias told me that malaria cases are already on the rise with early rains, and the coming rainy season threatens to make things much worse. Diarrhea is even more deadly for young children, and also could flourish in rainy season conditions. The doctors and nurses are offering support and treatment for diarrhea, as well as other lifesaving measures, like exclusive breastfeeding for infants and hand-washing and use of latrines.
Sadly, many women here think their breast milk has turned bad since the earthquake. They have been through so much, but wonderfully, most nursing mothers still have the ability to provide their babies the single best thing for their health.
YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates apply.