1,900 treated in Cotabambas, Peru

What can a team of 20 volunteers, all doctors or nurses, accomplish in five days with 10 Physician Travel Packs provided by HPIC?

“Over 1,900 patients were triaged,” reported Dr. Duncan Miller in his report to HPIC. “Of these, 1,608 were assessed in the general medicine clinic; 506 were seen by a dentist and 767 patients were treated in optometry. All of these patients were prescribed medication and/or vitamins.”

Dr. Miller’s team was assembled by the Ascenta Foundation from St. Paul’s and B.C. Children’s Hospitals in British Columbia and Hinton Hospital in Alberta. They provided care to the mainly indigenous community of Cotabambas in the Andes mountains in Peru.

“The overall sentiment was one of absolute gratitude. The local community expressed their thanks with their words, but also with their smiles, hugs, tears, and often, with a courteous tip of the hat,” Dr. Miller reported. “They hosted a beautiful closing ceremony for the whole team, attended by government officials from all over the region. Children from the local elementary school performed traditional Quechuan poems and dances originating from the 16th century.”

Most patients complained of parasites and body pain. “The greatest need was for vitamins to assist with malnutrition. Domestic abuse was widespread and the need for psychotropic medication was high. Patients also presented a great need for dental care,” wrote Dr. Miller.

There is a small hospital in the town but it doesn’t always have the medication required. That means that a patient would have to make a treacherous four-hour journey on a winding mountain road to the bigger centre of Cuzco.

“Some of our first patients were a mother and her three children,” Dr. Miller recalled. “All three kids were under 10 years old and had spent the afternoon in the dental clinic. I believe this may have been their first visit to a dentist. I had seen this family earlier and the eldest of the three boys was quite scared. He was crying, which had upset his siblings.

“When the family arrived at the pharmacy to collect their pain medications, antibiotics and vitamins, I gave each of the kids an Izzy Doll (knitted by volunteers across Canada and included in all PTPs). The children were mesmerized, they stopped crying and embraced their new toys. Their mother was so touched, her arms full of medications, her children happy and healthy, she became overwhelmed by tears of gratitude and hugged me.”

HPIC is mobilizing to respond to the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

HPIC is working with its partners to send essential medicines and medical supplies to overwhelmed hospitals and clinics in Gaza.

The humanitarian needs in Gaza are mounting as the violence continues between Israel and Hamas. At least 335,000 people have been displaced from their homes and remain in emergency shelters or with host families. 16,700 homes in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged. Caught in the middle, the civilian population has to cope with severe shortages in water and power services, and conflict.

The UN has warned of a ‘rapidly unfolding’ health disaster in Gaza as weeks of intense fighting has left medical services and facilities in the Gaza strip on the edge of collapse. One third of hospitals, 14 primary health care clinics and 29 Palestinian Red Crescent and Ministry of Health ambulances have been damaged in the fighting. The hospitals and clinics that are still functioning are greatly overwhelmed. Since July 7, more than 9,536 people have reportedly been injured, including 2,877 children, 1,853 women and 347 elderly people. Essential stocks of medicines and medical supplies have almost been depleted.

HPIC is in the process of initiating a global response to this desperate humanitarian situation in coordination with its partners in the UK (IHP-UK) and Gaza. In Gaza, one of these partners is ANERA – one of the few international organizations that consistently gets health care and humanitarian supplies into Gaza. ANERA has been distributing antibiotics, painkillers, and surgical supplies to hospitals since the start of the emergency, but the needs remain significant.

HPIC is working to collect medicines and supplies to ship to Gaza through ANERA and other partners. Your donation to HPIC’s Emergency Response Fund helps to ensure that lifesaving medicines and supplies are delivered to those who need it most.

Helping more Haitian mothers and babies survive childbirth

If you can get more pregnant women to come in for prenatal visits and to give birth at a clinic, more women and their babies will survive childbirth and the vulnerable days following a baby’s entry into the world.

HPIC has been supporting the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada’s work toward these goals over the last year. The EMCC has been managing a project working with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in northeastern Haiti near the border with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has some of the worst indicators in the Americas on the health of mothers and babies. In 2013, 380 mothers died for every 100,000 births, and in 2012, 76 children for every 1,000 births died before reaching their 5th birthday.

“The concept was to train these TBAs in Gens de Nantes to encourage more women to come in to the local clinic for pregnancy follow-up and to refer women in labour with complications to the clinic,” explained Catherine Sharouty of HPIC.

The EMCC provided the training and the funding support and HPIC provided 30 Mother-Child Health Kits in three shipments over 10 months, including the most recent provision of 10 kits the last week of July. Mother-Child Health Kits (MCH Kits) are designed to equip frontline health workers with the instruments, supplies and medicines they need to care for women and babies during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period. Each kit consists of medicines and supplies that need to be replenished and tools that can help a midwife/clinic for years to come. It is estimated that the consumables in one MCH Kit can serve 15 mothers and 30 children, from newborns to young children up to 5 years old.

“The EMCC provided incentives both for women to go to the clinic and for TBAs to give referrals. In addition, HPIC provided the MCH Kits to help the clinic deal with the boost in patient numbers,” Sharouty said.

The Mother-Child Health Kits “were very useful,” reported Marilyn McIlroy of the EMCC. “We had confidence that the supplies and pharmacy products were available when we needed them.”

In addition to receiving some basic training in managing complications in pregnancy and birth, these 30 TBAs were invited to work alongside the nurses and doctor at the Gens de Nantes clinic. One young mother, who was 19 when she gave birth, encouraged her cousin to go to the clinic for prenatal care. Her cousin, who is 25, had already lost two infants in the first days of life. Marilyn reported that she is now a mother after her baby was successfully delivered at the clinic by TBA Christemene Alcine using supplies from the Mother-Child Health Kits.

Another mother who benefitted from the MCH kits and the TBA training project was Milove St. Ilus. She already had three children when she visited Bertin Bernadin at his home to request his services as a TBA.

Marilyn told the story in a report to HPIC: “Bertin told her he had received training recently and had the materials needed for delivery. He asked Milove how many times she had visited the GDN health clinic for prenatal checkups. Bertin explained the importance of continuing to take the medicines that the nurse had prescribed, and the importance of a healthy diet. Ten days later, Milove’s husband came to get Bertin.  She was in labour.  He took his TBA kit and went off to her home.  Within 45 minutes of his arrival, Milove delivered a big baby boy.  He cut the cord; the placenta was delivered. Milove tore upon delivery. She rested until morning and the TBA stayed with her and her husband.  In the morning, Bertin encouraged Milove and her husband to go to the clinic. They brought the baby along. At the clinic, the nurse checked out Milove and sutured the tear. She also examined the newborn baby. The nurse complimented Bertin for bringing Milove and her family into the clinic for their first postnatal visit.”   

Before the project began, TBAs like Bertin and Christemene, did not have much for training and were not educated about the risks of not referring women in trouble to the clinic. These TBAs have hands-on experience in delivering babies and many would not have much education beyond elementary school. Now they have some basic training and they are motivated to refer their patients to the clinic for professional prenatal care and to manage complications.

“The EMCC is committed to continuing to train TBAs,” reported Catherine Sharouty. “HPIC will need your support to continue providing MCH kits to this project.”



Needed supplies en route to Zimbabwe hospital network

A 20-foot container loaded with close to $300,000 worth of medical supplies and over-the-counter medicines left HPIC’s distribution centre today destined for Harare, Zimbabwe.

“Our partner ZACH (the Zimbabwean Association of Church-related Hospitals) has 132 hospitals in their national network and will distribute the supplies according to needs expressed by the hospitals,” said Glen Shepherd, President of HPIC. The container was filled with items on the national needs list.

This is the first shipment of eight containers to the ZACH national network of hospitals in Zimbabwe over the next three years. The three-year project is made possible by a grant from the CHARIS Foundation.

“This will enhance the excellent work done by ZACH,” Glen said. “The hospitals are run by dozens of Christian denominations in the country and together, they provide more than 60 per cent of the health care. This project will help ZACH member hospitals cope with shortages of much needed medicines and supplies.”

HPIC has had a variety of projects and partners in Zimbabwe over the last two decades, including working directly with three member-hospitals of ZACH. For example, last week a major shipment of medicines was sent to Karanda Hospital, another member of ZACH thanks to a group of donors in Ontario.

In June, Glen Shepherd travelled to Zimbabwe to meet with partners in this ZACH project and with other partners to discuss bringing HPIC’s Mother-Child Health Kit to Zimbabwe. In addition, Glen met with the Deputy Minister of Health for Zimbabwe and officials with the Medicines Control Authority for Zimbabwe (MCAZ), responsible for all medicines entering the country. The purpose of these meetings was to ensure that HPIC has a good grasp of the needs and the current situation of partners in the country.

Syrian man can smile again thanks to treatment

A Syrian man in his early 20s was injured during the civil war in his country when a bomb hit his neighbourhood. Shrapnel had struck his neck and made him a quadriplegic.

“I was asked to see this patient because he ‘always looks so down and never smiles,’ ” wrote Dr. Saleem Al-Nuaimi in a report to HPIC. The psychiatric resident from Edmonton travelled in June to Turkey and Syria with the group Canadian Relief for Syria to provide psychiatric care and treatment to refugees.  “I assessed him and it was quite clear that he suffered from major depression.”

Dr. Al-Nuaimi had applied to HPIC for a Special Physician Request package of medicines he would need for his medical mission. Pharmascience and Teva provided over $6,000 worth of psychiatric medicines to Dr. Al-Nuaimi.

The young man was given an antidepressant donated to HPIC by Pharmascience. “It usually takes weeks to see the full benefit of antidepressants, but he had immediate benefits with improved sleep. A few days later his appetite had improved. Most importantly, he was able to smile again,” recalled the doctor.

In total, Dr. Al-Naimi was able to treat 30 Syrians suffering from various mental health problems.

“Syrian refugees are at high risk of mental illness due to traumatic experiences and adjustment difficulties. Many refugees also have suffered traumatic disability,” according to Dr. Al-Nuaimi, who added that not enough is being done to address the enormous mental health burden facing these refugees.

The Special Physician Request medicines helped raised awareness about mental health issues in the community and in training efforts. “With access to new psychotropic medications,” Dr. Al-Nuaimi wrote in his report to HPIC, “the community benefits from increased awareness about mental disorders in general, reducing stigma and encouraging people with mental illness to access mental health services and obtain treatment. We are working with local health professionals to enhance their recognition of mental disorders as well.”

Dr. Al-Nuaimi is continuing to serve Syrian refugees through providing consultation via Skype from his home in Edmonton.

Interviewed by CBC when he returned to Canada, Dr. Al-Nuaimi told CBC that he understands his impact may not seem significant, particularly while the death toll continues to rise in Syria, but says that “no matter how small the difference is, it’s still a difference.”

CBC story can be found here: http://bit.ly/1p8P3XE


Afghanistan’s pharmaceutical supply chain improved through HPIC project

Improving access to medicine and delivering quality medicines were the two main objectives of HPIC’s project in Afghanistan, which ended June 30.

The Capacity Building and Access to Medicine project was funded by the Canadian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Development and was done in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.

“Over the course of the project, we provided 306,423 treatments and improved Afghanistan’s pharmaceutical supply chain,” said Maryanne Mutch, HPIC’s Executive Director, Programs. “This was done through training personnel, improving inventory management systems, developing and implementing standard operating procedures, developing tools and purchasing much-needed equipment.”

Some examples of the project’s improvements in capacity include helping hospitals forecast their medicine needs and monitor usage, testing twice as many medicines entering the country, almost doubling the capacity of the Central Medical Stores facility, and increasing the efficiency and knowledge of pharmacists at nine partner hospitals and clinics in Kabul.

A major advancement was guiding the Central Medical Stores and the Pharmaceutical Donations Office (both departments of the Ministry of Public Health working at the national level) in the move from paper-based systems to working with customized digital databases.

“This was the most complex and largest-scale project HPIC has managed in our almost 25-year history,” said Glen Shepherd, President of HPIC. “We are proud of our team in Kabul and Montreal and what they were able to accomplish over the last four years.”

“Medicines are reaching more patients, staff in the Afghan health system feel better equipped to do their job and encouraged by the support we offered,” Mutch said. “Ultimately, accessing good quality medicine means that Afghans have a better quality of life, and higher life expectancy. There is also less pressure on the overall health system.”

The Afghan project was supported by 30 Canadian healthcare companies who donated close to $5 million in medicines, natural health products, and medical supplies to 9 partner hospitals and clinics in Kabul.

HPIC’s team is working to apply the tools and features of the successful Afghan project to new project proposals. “We feel that our Capacity Building and Access to Medicines project could be adapted to benefit other communities around the word,” said Shepherd.

Issuu Version: Infographic: Strengthening Health Systems; Improving Access to Medicines

PDF Version: HPIC Infographic Strengthening Health Systems

Miraculous healing of two little brothers

Dr. Mallory Chavannes and her team were able to see about 650 children in the towns around Gracias, Honduras when they went on a medical mission in April carrying 10 Physician Travel Packs provided by HPIC.

Of all those children, two stood out in her memory. Dr. Chavannes wrote about these two little boys, aged 12 and 7, in her post-trip report to HPIC.

“Looking at them, you would have thought they were 8 and 3, considering how small they were. They had been abandoned by their mother and were in the care of their father and grandfather,” Dr. Chavannes wrote.

“They had a very rare skin condition called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. This is a genetic condition which affects the skin, depriving it of its natural protection. It places the children at higher risk for cancer from sun exposure. They also are prone to skin ulcerations and corneal abrasions.

“Infections of the skin ulcers can be very problematic. They actually had been lucky to see a dermatologist in Gracias, but they could not afford any therapy. In Canada, they would have been treated with high dose retinoic acid or with 5-FU.

“However, it just so happens this year that the Physician Travel Packs came with multiple bottles of replenishing eye drops. We usually do not have many indications to use these in paediatrics. However, these were perfect for the boys!

“We managed to find a garbage bag and filled it with eye drops to protect their eyes from corneal abrasions (which can lead to blindness). We also gave them tubes of Polysporin and antibiotic cream to protect their ulcerating skin.

“Combined with sunscreen from our own personal supplies, these boys had enough medication for at least a year to protect them from the sun, keep their wounds from getting infected and protect their eyes.

“It really felt like a miracle that we had the chance to meet these boys and to actually provide medications that they needed,” she wrote.

“This trip would definitely not be the same without the donations of medicine from HPIC’s donors,” Dr. Chavannes wrote in her report. “For some of these children, it is obvious that the timeliness of our presence, combined with the antibiotics, is a life-saving event. It is clear that a young baby affected with pneumonia can suffer severe consequences. Also, considering how difficult it is to fundraise and buy medication at full price for these kinds of missions, it is indispensable to have organizations like HPIC combined with donations from companies for us to be able to deliver care abroad.”

Global Medical Brigades equipped with PTPs

Canadian students going on medical missions with Global Medical Brigades will now be able to carry HPIC’s Physician Travel Pack to complement their Global Brigade Box.

“We are thrilled to be working with Global Medical Brigades in this partnership,” said Claudia Sighomnou, Director of HPIC’s Physician Travel Pack program. “We believe that students will be better equipped for their medical missions. In addition, donors will receive a charitable tax receipt for PTP contributions.”

Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Since 2004, Global Brigades has mobilized tens of thousands of university students and professionals through skill-based programs that work in partnership with community members to improve quality of life in under resourced regions while respecting local culture.

The mission of Global Medical Brigades is to provide comprehensive health services in rural communities with limited access to healthcare by having volunteers work alongside local licensed medical professionals. Their current focus is Ghana, Honduras, Nicaragua

and Panama.  There are several chapters of Global Medical Brigades at campuses across Canada.

The Physician Travel Pack, or PTP, is a standard assortment of essential medicines and medical supplies that can provide up to 600 treatments. Canadian pharmaceutical and healthcare companies donate the contents according to the World Health Organization Guidelines for Medicine Donations.

Each PTP is valued at around $5,000. HPIC requests a contribution fee of $575 per PTP to help partially cover the costs of running this program.

For a limited time and with help from a donor, HPIC is encouraging first time partners to take a PTP by lowering the contribution fee from $575 to $475.

How do you get a Brigade Box/PTP if you are a member of Global Medical Brigades? Just go to the custom Global Medical Brigades PTP Application page: http://www.hpicanada.ca/forms/ptp-gb.php?tokenID=6hdjuij990d



Every patient has a story

Sometimes treating one patient means that a whole family is helped, even an entire community.

This was an insight of Dr. Hélène Thibault who carried a Physician Travel Pack to Anse à Veau, Haiti in early May. Dr. Thibault went with a team from the University of Moncton for a Humanitarian Mission to Haiti.

During her two weeks in Haiti, Dr. Thibault worked two days at the local hospital and participated in mobile clinics. She estimates that she saw more than 260 patients.

“Each patient had a unique and touching story,” she wrote in her report to HPIC. “Our cook had tears in her eyes when we gave her medicine to treat her high blood pressure and an acid reflux problem. A little girl we treated for an infection of her navel would hold my hands when she saw me in the street.

“An elderly man who was thin and didn’t know his age, had multiple wounds and spoke a hard-to-understand Creole. When he was treated, he flashed us a striking smile and his eyes lit up.

“During one of the mobile clinics we entered into an old church to find 200 people waiting for us hoping to access free medical care,” Dr. Thibault reported.

I know these patients would want to say: “Mesi en pile!” (with a big smile!)