Direct Relief is sending emergency medicines and medical supplies to Haiti following an urgent request from the Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Haiti who contacted Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Team on Tuesday to request medicine for the chikungunya outbreak rapidly spreading across the island nation.
The Haitian government formally declared a medical emergency and anticipates that up to 50 percent of the population will be affected by the outbreak. They’ve begun extermination efforts to help prevent the disease from spreading.
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus spread by the same mosquitoes that carry dengue and yellow fever. The disease has been spreading in the Caribbean since December, detected in Haiti for the first time in May. There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya, or medication to treat it, but patients need access to products that can reduce the symptoms–dangerously high fever and severe joint pain.
If patients do require hospital care, the availability of rehydration products are also critical to have on hand. To address these needs, Direct Relief is rapidly mobilizing pain relievers, fever reducers, and oral rehydration products.
There is significant concern about the effects of chikungunya on the health of Haiti’s population, especially at the beginning of the rainy season because there is high likelihood for increased incidence of cholera and heavy storms. Direct Relief is shipping six Hurricane Preparedness Modules in anticipation of the need.
Direct Relief is one the few large non-governmental organizations regularly providing donated medicines to Haiti that has a permanent presence and staff in the country. Direct Relief works very closely with the Haitian Ministry of Health and its public hospitals, providing over $120 million worth of donated medicines since the devastating 2010 earthquake.