The day had finally come. Pierre was ready. With his oversized pants hoisted up by a weathered black belt and a checkered blue and orange shirt tucked underneath, the little boy exuded the air of a wizened old man ready for a long journey, not a four-year-old child getting discharged home from the hospital.
His mother had taken pains to plaster down his wisps of blondish-brown hair, a sign of his vitamin-deficient state, that had started to grow back. She’d made sure he would go home in style, with pride.
I caught mirth in Pierre’s eyes and a grin that revealed carried teeth as he waved good-bye. This young boy was a far cry from the tired, fragile little one who had been admitted to the inpatient malnutrition ward a mere three weeks prior.
During my time as a clinical fellow working in the pediatric ward at Hospital Saint Nicolas in Saint Marc, Haiti, I’ve had the opportunity to take care of infants and children who have etched indelible stories of both heartbreak and triumph in my heart and mind. However, the faces and stories from the malnutrition ward, where those children who are too sick to manage in the outpatient malnutrition program are admitted, stand out most vividly. …Read More
It’s always fascinating to visit a new country as a team and learn about how the culture, politics, economics and healthcare systems all impact pediatric oncology care.
I recently returned from a week-long trip to Yerevan, Armenia, where my colleagues and I conducted a preliminary needs assessment and explored ways to improve childhood cancer care in the country. The Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center Global Health Initiative (GHI) team, including Leslie Lehmann, MD, GHI Medical/Faculty Director, Kathleen Houlahan, MSN, MHA, RN, Jorge Fernandez, LICSW, and Brian Delaney, PsyD, met with faculty and staff at the Clinic of Chemotherapy at Muratsan Hospital Complex of Yerevan State Medical University, government officials and nonprofit organizations.
Knowledge-sharing among our international partners is an essential part of our institution’s global health efforts.
Knowledge-sharing among our international partners is an essential part of our institution’s global health efforts. Collaborating with health care professionals from a wide variety of specialties and perspectives is a core part of GHI’s mission. …Read More
These are words I will never forget. They were uttered by a dejected mother as she watched us, her daughter’s medical team, desperately try to resuscitate the child.
She was right.
Because she could not afford the antibiotics to treat severe pneumonia, her daughter died when the infection overwhelmed her little body.
As a Pediatric Critical Care specialist, I am trained to help children survive their most acutely ill states. I fight death, in the literal sense. Over the last few months, while working in Rwanda and Liberia, I have all too often found myself staring helplessly at parents and family members as they watch their young children succumb to disease. Much of the western medical advances that allow us to minimize childhood mortality rates have not yet made it to these countries.
In Sub-Saharan Africa and other low resource areas, preventative strategies and primary healthcare are the focus of governments and ministries of health. The need for basic healthcare services will always be present, but tertiary healthcare systems — including critical care — are becoming more important as childhood mortality rates decline. These supplementary services must be incorporated into the fabric of existing healthcare structures.
There are some patients that keep me up at night — the ones I worry about even when medical care is optimal. Patients with severe acute malnutrition fall into this category.
It’s difficult to predict which child with severe acute malnutrition will survive and which child won’t make it. All too often, I have seen a child on the pediatric ward who seems to be doing well, only to be told the next day at morning report the child had died. …Read More