As we went to Haiti representing the American Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), and the Islamic Centre of the Dominican Republic (Circulo Islámico de la Republica Dominicana), we had a first-hand glimpse into what was really happening in the forefront, post-earthquake.
We worked with several other relief organizations such as IHH Insani Yardim Vakfi (Turkey), Muslim Hands (UK & France), Islamic Relief Centre (Trinidad and Tobago), Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago, Islamic Relief USA, Red Crescent, LIFE, Al Khair Foundation (UK), ISNA Canada, ICNA Canada, and many others. Each of these organizations had their own specific focus on how to provide relief
The director of ICNA Relief Canada and Helping Hand USA asked us to assist him in running a small clinic to see patients and prescribe some medications to them, which we had brought with us from Santo Domingo. We set up shop at a clinic inside the Masjid Al Tawheed compound and within that refugee camp; we set up the first Helping Hand USA Clinic and attended to 150 patients who were in various stages of sickness.
Of the 150 patients that sought medical treatment at the clinic, approximately 70% of those individuals complained of flu-like symptoms which included: coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and fever.Within this particular 70% of patients, children ranging in age from 2-10 and elderly individuals ranging from 45-70 had the highest incidence of these symptoms; however, it was also present in the other age demographics as well.
As the majority of the victims were in their homes during the catastrophic earthquake, debris from their broken homes fell on them causing a wide range of different soft tissue injuries that ranged from abrasions and scratches on the surface of the skin to deep wounds that penetrate up to the bone.With regard to these cases, cleaning of the wound was called for followed by proper dressing of it to protect it from the outside elements and infection. A few patients came to the clinic and they had pretty severe infections. For instance, one patient came with a soft tissue wound in his lower limb and stated that he had used “motor oil” to treat it.For these patients, special antibiotic ointments were applied to the wounds, following cleaning, and then bandaged.In many cases, although, not common in our particular clinic, was bone fractures, and limb amputations.
Majority of women and children experienced gastritis, abdominal pains, diarrhea, vomiting and ulcers. Drinking water is not always available in the earthquake zone, which meant that many patients had no choice but to drink water that was infested with different microorganisms and parasites, such as E.coli, E.histolytica, A.lumbricoides, etc. Another common occurrence noted most frequently in females ranging from the age of 14-35 was STDs and Urinary tract infections.
Other conditions noted were otitis media, meningitis, anemia and malnutrition.