HUM Tackles Alarming Dengue Fever Surge in Haiti

Mosquito-borne disease may have spread across the border from Dominican Republic

Posted on Aug 3, 2023

clinicians at HUM
Clinicians review a patient's chart at Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) in Mirebalais, Haiti, on March 24, 2023. Photo by Nadia Todres for PIH

University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM) in Haiti recorded 40 cases of extreme fever over the weekend, with 11 confirmed cases of dengue fever so far, according to Dr. Christophe Millien, HUM’s chief medical officer. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. Symptoms can include high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. In severe cases there is serious internal bleeding and shock, which can be life threatening. Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting dengue fever. Treatment includes providing patients with hydration and pain relievers. Severe cases require hospital care.

Millien has started working closely with his team to prepare an action plan for community intervention. “Considering there is currently an epidemic of dengue fever in the Dominican Republic, it has probably already spread throughout our territory,” he says. The viral disease has already spread through many rural areas of the Dominican Republic, which shares a border with Haiti. Communities in the Dominican province of Elias Pina, which neighbors Mirebalais, are at greatest risk.  

Dr. Christophe Millien
Dr. Christophe Millien, HUM’s chief medical officer. Photo by PIH / Zanmi Lasante 

“We are planning to go into the communities in Mirebalais and raise awareness through the radio and television stations,” explains Millien. The team will also distribute mosquito nets to help with prevention.

“We are currently monitoring all cases of fever at HUM and have set out rapid tests to be able to diagnose the symptoms very quickly,” he says. “I have also started training the staff at HUM on the proper ways to tackle this.”

It’s been over four years since multiple cases of dengue fever were recorded throughout most of Haiti, while 3,500 cases were identified in the Dominican Republic at the time. The difference may also indicate a difference in the two countries’ abilities to systematically screen for the disease.

HUM is a 205,000 square-foot, 330-bed teaching hospital, which opened its doors in March 2013, in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP) and filled a void for people with limited access to quality health care. HUM receives over 1,250 outpatient visits per day and serves a population of 1.3 million people. Ten years since its opening, with a highly skilled staff of medical practitioners like Millien and his team, HUM remains committed to bringing the benefits of modern medical science to those who need it most and to serve as an antidote to despair.

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