A key project for Medical Missionaries has been the building and support of a model clinic (hospital) in Thomassique, Haiti. The clinic incorporates all the other functions of Medical Missionaries (medicine, medical equipment, medical supplies, education, and medical team visits) and serves as a model of what is possible in the most needy of areas, given continuity and sustained commitment.
The clinic has become a multi-faceted health center for the region. In addition to treating health problems, staff of the clinic and Medical Missionaries volunteers have begun to address some of the underlying causes of health problems such as malnutrition, contaminated water, poor housing, and the lack of clothing and shoes.
Since 2007, Medical Missionaries has been providing distribution of food to a remote area of the Dominican Republic, on the border of Haiti, with funding from USAID. More than 10,000 portions of dehydrated soup are delivered monthly to families who, for the most part, are subsistence farmers and live in the mountainous region north of Pedro Santana. Medical Missionaries also provides medicine and surgical services to this area.
In January 2009, Medical Missionaries started a food program at a small school in Thomassique, Haiti. Made possible by a donation of food from our partner organization, Feed My Starving Children, a hot nutritious lunch is now provided each day to more than 1,000 students at schools in Thomassique. Watch a short video showing this food program in action.
In March 2009, a nutritional supplement program was introduced for malnourished children, to restore them to health. About 40 to 50 malnourished children are seen each month at the clinic. Under this program, each child is de-wormed and given a two-month regimen of Medika Mamba, a peanut butter mixture fortified with vitamins, powdered milk, oils, and honey. The treatment has a 90% success rate. For more information, you can read the study design. This program is offered with our partner organization, Meds and Food for Kids, at Washington University.
In April 2009, an experimental project was begun to assess the value of two home-based water purification systems. The study compared the usability and effectiveness of a granular chlorine system (Klorfasil) and a solar disinfection system (SODIS). (Read the study design.) Based on the results of this study, and with funding from the Gerard Health Foundation, Medical Missionaries began distributing Klorfasil water systems throughout Thomassique. The onslaught of the cholera epidemic in Fall 2010 accelerated the pace of this program. By the end of 2010, about 2,500 households were using the Klorfasil system. By the end of 2014, systems had been installed in more than 8,000 homes.
Medical Missionaries also partnered with the University of Notre Dame to introduce fortified salt (“Bon Sel”) to the Thomassique region to combat lymphatic filariasis and delayed brain development in children. Working with local salt distributors, we are encouraging all households to use this salt instead of the raw salt that most use today. We estimate that it will take 5 years or more to achieve a significant reduction in these two illnesses.
We learned that many of the patients at our clinic walked for several hours from their villages to be seen by a doctor or nurse. A grant from the Gerard Health Foundation has allowed us to establish a Community Health Center in five of the outlying villages. These Centers provide simple first aid and refer patients with more serious health problems to the clinic. The Centers also serve as a focal point for health improvement in the villages, coordinating the water purification program, fortified salt program, childhood nutrition program, and hygiene education.