Tag Archives: primary care

World TB Day: A Q&A with C2C’s Managing Director

Today, C2C recognizes World TB Day. This global day of observance occurs each year on March 24 and commemorates the date Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). 

This year’s theme for World TB Day is “The Clock is Ticking”—referring to the commitments made by global leaders to end TB and the urgency still needed to act on this goal. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put TB progress at risk, and in ensuring equitable access to prevention and care. Globally, many people still suffer from TB. Here at C2C, we are committed to finding and treating cases of active TB disease, testing and treating latent TB infection to prevent progression, and helping to make TB elimination into a reality.

Part of the solution to this crisis is increased TB education and outreach to healthcare providers, healthcare agencies, and community organizations, especially those serving populations disproportionately affected by it—such as the ones we serve in Haiti. TB is still a life-threatening problem, and it impacts many of our vulnerable communities in Haiti. TB knows no borders, and people all across the world are suffering from it.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/images/default-source/who-campaigns/world-tb-day-2021/campaign-materials/infographics/210309_who_tbday_infographic_1_page_1.png?sfvrsn=ecab63c9_3

This year for World TB Day, we are sharing a Q&A from our Managing Director, Racha Yehia. Racha is deeply involved in the development and implementation of C2C’s programs and knows firsthand the importance of TB education and medical care.

Q: How does C2C screen for tuberculosis in its clinics?

A: We screen anyone for TB that has had a cough for more than two weeks. We take a sample of three sputum specimens to determine whether the test is positive or negative for TB. 

Q: Who takes care of the patients?

A: Our team works together to ensure proper care of TB patients. From the doctor that does the initial screening and explains the disease, to the lab technician that performs the analysis, to the nurse that explains the medication treatment, to the community health worker that goes to the patient’s home to check on their health status—it is all about teamwork! 

Q: Can you explain what TB treatment looks like?

A: The duration of treatment and the types of drugs administered depends on the status of the patient. If it is a new case (a person having tuberculosis for the first time) the treatment will last 6 months, if there is no issue with the protocol or relapse. Anti-TB drugs are used as a treatment: RHEZ (Rifampicin (R), Isoniazid (H), Ethambutol (E), and Pyrazinamide (Z)). The treatment regimen consists of 4 months of RHEZ followed by 2 months of RH. If the patient has multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), another treatment protocol will be used, which will last between 9 to 12 months. The lab material and medication to diagnose and treat TB patients are all provided for free by the Ministry of Health. Along with malaria and HIV/AIDS, TB is one of the three diseases for which treatment is fully subsidized by the government. 

Q: Can anyone get TB?

A: Anyone can catch TB, but the majority of cases we encounter are people that have an underlying disease such as diabetes, respiratory problems, asthma, HIV/AIDS, or malnutrition. Also, people with poor personal hygiene habits have higher chances of getting TB. 

Q: How is TB viewed in Haiti?

A: It is considered the disease of poor people and has several Creole nicknames: maladi ti kay, maladi kenhenk kenhenk, maladi touse, maladi zepol kare. People with tuberculosis are stigmatized, especially by those around them. Many hide the fact they have TB from the community they live in or go to other neighboring regions to be treated so they are not recognized. Despite the TB treatment being free of charge, there is still a lot of stigmatization towards the disease. Patients have a hard time accepting they have the disease and following the TB protocol. Most prefer ignoring their diagnosis, not taking their medication, and letting their health worsen. Our biggest challenge at C2C when trying to fight TB is to bring awareness and educate the population on the disease in the different communities we serve, which helps reduce stigmatization, as well as ensuring that our TB patients adhere to the regimen of taking their medication for the required duration. With the regular home visits that we have as part of our community health program, we do our best to ensure their full recovery.  

This entry was posted on by Racha Yehia.

Reflecting on one year of COVID-19: A letter from C2C’s Managing Director in Haiti

Two years ago, life in Haiti seemed normal yet still consisted of many struggles, from poverty and lack of education & healthcare, to political uprisings and a continuously crashing economy. Fast forward to 2020, and still the same struggles endured amid a global pandemic. The unknown loomed in a country with clustered public transportation, where pickup trucks are often filled with 20+ people packed together. How do people practice social distancing in such an environment? Well, they simply cannot. Out of necessity, life had to continue without the possibility of precautions for the masses. A lucky few could afford social distancing—which remains a luxury. 

Today, one year since the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Haiti and the first wave began, the country has somehow been spared the worst. In a population of almost 12 million people, less than 13,000 positive cases have been confirmed and 250 deaths. In contrast, Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, has faced 247,000 positive cases and more than 3,000 deaths. The reason for this drastic difference remains unknown. We can speculate that it is due to Haiti’s very young population, where fifty percent are under 23 years of age. We can make guesses that herbal medicine has treated unknown cases or we rapidly reached herd immunity. We can continue to speculate but the truth is that we still do not know.

Luckily for us at C2C, we do have the resources to keep our staff and patients safe. We are able to provide an environment where social distancing is practiced, hand-washing stations are available, and educational material on prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 are shared. Within the past year, behavior towards the virus has gone from people instigating violence or harm towards individuals who admitted to having symptoms and institutions trying to protect the population from the spread of the virus, to people believing that there is no more COVID-19 in Haiti. All of these thoughts and ideas were driven by lack of knowledge about the virus. From day one, C2C has worked to bring awareness to the issue and educate our patient population on the precautions that should be taken to reduce the spread. We know that health education plays an important role in fighting the COVID-19 myths that erode trust in healthcare. For that reason, we continue to educate our patients and the communities we serve until this day.

During the summer of 2020, the government lifted all restrictions related to the virus and the country got back to ‘normal’ life. However, at C2C we felt that we needed to continue to provide the necessary resources to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Together, we worked with our community leaders to create a safer environment for our patient population when it came to their daily routines. We provided more than 50 buckets to be used as washing stations that were placed at churches, school entrances, and in areas with a high population density. As part of our continued campaign to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are currently still installing more than 100 tippy taps in the communities we serve. 

The reality is that we are still going through a global pandemic and no matter what the data says, precautions still need to be taken daily. We have come a long way since the first case was reported in the country exactly a year ago and we are proud to have kept all our clinic doors open to serve the communities that need it the most.

As we continue to fight COVID-19, our mission remains unchanged. We will continue to ensure that vulnerable communities in Haiti have access to high-quality care to safeguard the health of themselves and their families. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported C2C during this difficult time. Our work would not be possible without your generosity! To learn more about how your donations are protecting our communities against the threat of COVID-19 and to continue to help us do this necessary work, click here!

Sincerely,

Racha Yehia
Managing Director

This entry was posted on by Racha Yehia.