Medical Director's Note - September 2011
We had a phenomenally successful first year delivering health care to the kids in the Power of Education School. In Ocotber, 2010, everyone received a complete physical and screening for anemia, TB, vision and hearing problems. We treated many illnesses such as allergies, skin infections, eczema, gastrointestinal infections, asthma, headaches, eye infections and others. The kids received education on basic things like hygiene, handwashing and dental care. In addition, all children are receiving daily vitamins with iron, weekly medicine to prevent malaria and twice yearly medicine to treat intestinal parasites.
All kids were reweighed, remeasured and had repeat screenings for anemia in April of 2011. We are happy to report that the average growth for our kids in that 6 month period was 1 inch (would be considered near normal for kids even in the US!), average weight gain in that time was 2 1/2 lbs (again, almost normal for kids in the US) and the average blood count increased by 1! Many of the kids are still anemic, but with ongoing food and vitamins with iron, we hope to continue to reverse that!
Medical and dental teams will be returning to the school in October, where we will start to provide corrective and preventive dental care, do first time physicals and screenings on the new kids, and repeat physicals and screenings on the established kids. We'll again check the kids for acute and chronic health problems and treat those we find. We'll continue our community education, with plans to discuss reproductive health and water purification. We will also be screening all the school kids for HIV, something we've wanted to do since the school opened!
Longer term plans for the health care program include obtaining chest x rays for the kids whose skin tests last year show exposure to TB (this does NOT mean they have active TB, only that they've been exposed to someone with it. This is extremely common in Haiti), working with local health care officials in Haiti to make sure all kids have access to important childhood immunizations, and ongoing health education.
For those of you who have wondered about our wonderful clinic and how much we're able to do for the kids, you would be so amazed and impressed if you saw it. It's not much different, in terms of the medicines we have, etc, than an office you might take your child to. We are well stocked with everything we need to care for sick and well children (including emergency medicines, IV's, treatment for cholera, asthma, dehydration, fever, etc). I hope some of you will be able to see it when you visit the school one day!
Jeri Kessenich, M.D.
Medical Director, Power of Education Foundation