Saturday, September 27, 2008

US Medical Workers Depart For Storm-Ravaged Haiti

PORTLAND, USA (Reuters): Six volunteer health professionals with Medical Teams International leave Friday to help Haitian families struggling to survive after devastating storms displaced 1 million people.

The team of three doctors and three nurses - including Dr Joseph Markee and nurse Linda Markee of Vancouver, Wash - will work in a health clinic north of Gonaives where severe flooding destroyed 80 percent of the city. The Markees, who are serving on their 13th trip with Medical Teams International, established the Haiti Foundation of Hope in 2005.

"We expect to see severe fungal infections from prolonged contact with water, rampant malaria, typhoid and extreme malnutrition, particularly in the very young and elderly," explains Dr Markee, who worked in the same region following Haiti's Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.

With roads and bridges washed out by devastating floods, northern Haiti is difficult to access. Medical Teams International staff and others are fording swelling rivers to reach stranded people. "Despite the risks, the benefits are great," says Dr Markee. "Many people have been saved from certain death."

"Haiti is already the poorest country in the Americas," explains Joe DiCarlo, director of emergency relief at Medical Teams International. "Most people live on less than $2 a day. This is a country with few resource - especially ones needed to recover after two tropical storms and hurricanes Gustav and Ike. There is an urgent need for medicines, shelter, clean water and medical care."

Additional volunteers include nurses Melanie Thomas of Burns, Ore, Brenda Maldonado of Sultan, Wash, Dr Joe Herbert of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Dr Bill Petty of Winston-Salem, NC. The volunteers will carry in antibiotics, bandages and malaria medications.

Medical Teams International began working in Haiti in 1994, sending medical volunteers to help with health care needs resulting from civil conflict. Since 2005, the agency has deployed more than 15 volunteer medical teams and sent $2.6 million in health care supplies to the country.

Source: CNN

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