When we think of essential medicines, we often think of prescription medicines. But it is amazing how effective over-the-counter medicines can be to treat everyday illnesses and even relieve symptoms of some exotic viruses in developing and impoverished areas of the world.
HPIC has had a long running partnership with Consumer Health Products Canada (CHP Canada) and several of its member companies, manufacturers of non-prescription – or self-care – products. CHP Canada has been a partner since the earliest days and was a major sponsor of HPIC’s mission during this anniversary year.
In 2014, there was an outbreak of the chikungunya virus in the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere. Fortunately, HPIC was able to provide a major shipment of medicines suited to this outbreak- many from CHPC members.
Chikungunya is a virus spread by infected mosquitos that causes debilitating joint pain and high fevers. Other symptoms are muscle pain, rash, headache, nausea, and fatigue. Chikungunya usually isn’t fatal, but there have been deaths related to the disease. Infants and the elderly are the most vulnerable to this virus.
“There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya,” the World Health Organization states in a fact sheet about the disease. “Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms.”
Originally from Africa, the virus has spread to many parts of the world and landed in the Caribbean about two years ago. Haiti was ground zero for the first outbreak there.
HPIC provided medical relief through Food for the Poor to Haiti in 2014 when the country was experiencing an epidemic. “The beneficiaries were relieved of pain after receiving acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” wrote Food for the Poor’s agent in Haiti. “These are the only safe medicines that can treat the virus. It was a big relief for infected people to receive these medicines.”
Over-the-counter medicines we use here every day in Canada, are important and essential medicines for many of HPIC’s projects, including the Mother-Child Health Kit and Physician Travel Pack. These medicines and vitamins provide tremendous relief and are very appreciated by our program partners.