Two months after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, two of FHHH founding members, Dr. Emmanuel St. Louis and Dr. Thierry Duchatellier, went to Haiti on the first medical trip arranged by the foundation. The destination was Carries, Cote Des Arcadin, which is located one hour away from the capital. On the second clinic day, they saw twin boys age 7 months old who were severely malnourished and looked more like 2 months old babies. They had no subcutaneous fat, their eyes were sunken, and they had decreased tone and could not hold their heads up. Their chance for survival seemed pretty dim.
Their mother reported that her breast milk had dried up and that she was feeding them laite bonbon or cookie milk which is made off a local sugar and flour cookie mixed with water and fed in a bottle. This concoction had plenty of sugar but no calcium, vitamins, iron, and minerals and was all she was able to afford. She was not aware of any alternatives. Our doctors with the help of our Haiti liaison, Lynotte Joseph, implemented a feeding program for the twins.
Infant formula and cereal was provided by FHHH, prepared by Mrs. Joseph and given to the family on a daily basis. The twins were seen for follow-up at the foundation’s subsequent medical trips to Carries by another board member, Dr. Yolaine St. Louis, a pediatrician. FHHH’s commitment to those babies continued between medical trips. A few months later during FHHH’s last medical trip in Carries, Dr. Emanuel St.Louis was pleasantly surprised to see how well the twins had thrived.
Under nutrition or malnutrition is a common problem faced by many children in Haiti. It is estimated that 23% of children live in chronic malnutrition. At FHHH our approach in alleviating this issue is with training and education of both patients and staff. Breastfeeding encouragement, educating mothers about healthier affordable supplementation as well as a healthy diet for all members of the family are key elements of our programs.
Nutritional support in the form of distribution of vitamins and food to those who need it is one of our major goals.