Two Microcephaly Cases Confirmed in Haitian Newborns
Children Born a Few Weeks Apart at Partners In Health Hospital in Mirebalais
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rebecca Rollins, Chief Communications Officer
BOSTON (August 9, 2016) – Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante, its sister organization in Haiti, today confirmed two cases of microcephaly in newborns in Haiti. The children were born just weeks apart this summer at University Hospital, a Partners In Health-supported public health hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.
Blood samples from both newborns have been submitted to Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) to investigate a possible connection to the Zika virus.
“The birth of two children with microcephaly, just weeks apart, has made our team even more alert to what is likely a major underestimation of the spread of the Zika virus in Haiti,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, senior health and policy advisor and an infectious disease expert at Partners In Health, who is leading the organization’s Zika efforts with her colleagues in Haiti. “As we watch Zika virus epidemics move through South America, the Caribbean, and now transmission occurring within the United States, the connectedness of the world feels more evident.”
“The impact of this disease is greatest amongst the poorest communities,” Dr. Ivers continued. “We at Partners In Health will continue to do our part to treat patients who exhibit Zika-related illnesses, support children born with congenital disabilities, and work to the best of our ability with the Haitian government, affected communities, and world organizations to prevent more transmission of the virus.”
“Like cholera and chikungunya, Zika is real. We have to do whatever it takes to protect the environment, our patients and our staff—especially women and children,” said Loune Viaud, Zanmi Lasante’s co-executive director.
Partners In Health in Haiti—Zanmi Lasante—worked with officials from MSPP and representatives from the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, and several international nongovernmental organizations to create an action plan to address Zika in Haiti in early 2016. That plan includes six main target areas: epidemiologic surveillance, social communication and mobilization, family planning, vector-borne disease control, clinical management, and monitoring and evaluation.
“Strong health systems are the proven way to manage emerging diseases such as Zika,” said Partners In Health CEO Dr. Gary Gottlieb. “That is why we work with governments and other partners in Haiti and around the world to build and maintain health infrastructures that will contain or mitigate emerging diseases where they start, so that we can protect all communities from global public health threats.”