Guillaume was just 21 years old when he contracted tuberculosis. As his illness progressed, it became difficult for him to continue working to support his mother and four siblings. Breathless and coughing constantly, Guillaume sought care at GHESKIO Center, an AmeriCares supported health center in Port-Au-Prince.
Since the 2010 earthquake, AmeriCares has supplied GHESKIO with nearly $700,000 in crucial medical aid – including a one-year’s supply of vitamin B6, used specifically to help treat TB patients like Guillaume. A second-year’s supply of the vitamin just arrived in Port-au-Prince on October 29th.
"Vitamin B6 is important to prevent harm to the central nervous system, a side-effect of critical tuberculosis treatment,” said AmeriCares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia. “Being protected from these serious and unpleasant side-effects makes patients far more likely to follow through with the long-term treatment they need to cure tuberculosis."
Tuberculosis is one of Haiti’s most urgent health crises. The country’s already high infection rate has risen since the earthquake, when settlements became breeding grounds for the deadly disease. From 2008-2011, the number of Haitians suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis has doubled.
After receiving care, Guillame’s health improved so dramatically that he has been able to return to his normal life. He expressed hope that the medical products, including Vitamin B6, would continue to help other low-income tuberculosis patients in vulnerable situations.
Urgent Care Partnership
GHESKIO is a nonprofit health center specializing in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. It holds the distinction of being the first institution in the world dedicated to treating HIV/AIDS patients, having published groundbreaking research even before the acronym AIDS existed. The clinic continues to provide free, high-quality care, and now treats about 200 HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients each day. The two diseases often coexist among patients, since immune-compromised individuals are more susceptible to TB infection.
The partnership between the two organizations allows many more Haitians suffering from disease to get health care that they would otherwise not have been able to afford.
Learn more about our work in Haiti here.