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Feb-16-2010 16:44printcommentsVideo

Handling Tuberculosis in Haiti

There are roughly 30,000 new cases of tuberculosis each year in Haiti.

TB patient in Haiti
Photo/Video courtesy: United Nations/MINUSTAH

(PORT-AU-PRINCE / SALEM) - Haiti has the highest tuberculosis (TB) rate in the Americas, and health experts say that number may rise. Since last month’s earthquake, TB patients that have had their treatment disrupted could now become more infectious -- many are now living in the camps.

Health officials are scrambling to get those infected back into treatment and finding newly infected patients as fast as they can.

Dr Megan Coffee works with infectious disease.

“We are standing outside a tuberculosis tent. It’s very important with all these people who are not living in their normal homes, either living in tents or moving to different cities that they have continuity in their treatment and that patients who have new TB infections found are treated. There’s a great risk if there is any disruption in this that they can either become infectious or they could develop resistance if they take different amount of their medication, they miss weeks, they take some at some other times. So it is important to have the infrastructure built up.”

Outside Port-au-Prince General Hospital, dozens of international and Haitian doctors are busy treating patients in tents alongside international volunteers.

Dr Coffee says treatment is a priority.

“We are really having all these patients connected in order to get the treatment they need. It’s not that there is a new rise of cases after the earthquake. It’s more that it’s a very prevalent disease here and it’s something that should always have attention placed on it. That there are enough people with tuberculosis that we should make sure that we always continue to have as a priority to treat them.”

There are roughly 30,000 new cases of tuberculosis each year in Haiti. The World Health Organization says that it is the country’s second most common killer behind AIDS.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Osotan; February 17, 2010 9:17 am (Pacific time)

Thanks S-N,and all those able to actually help. Haiti in my thoughts continually.

gp February 17, 2010 6:19 am (Pacific time)

Democracy Now.com has also been giving good coverage to the way the Haitians have been helping themselves. Yesterdays coverage by Avi Lewis was brilliant. The Haitians don't want pity, they want help. It seems like the biggest problem continues to be helpful foreigners who are not working with communtiy leaders. Also, as I said many weeks ago, the security needed most by Haitians was in establishing TB clinics and helping those on the frontline of this disease on the ground in Haiti.

Elizar D February 16, 2010 8:53 pm (Pacific time)

I love the sight of seeing this article. It is very important to see news about the health of Haitians. I found another site too that has good news on Haiti. http://www.haitian-truth.org

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