Today was a special day, as Zanmi Lasante hosted the 1st Annual Pediatric Disability Conference for caregivers from all across Haiti.
Over 40 therapists, teachers, nurses and other caregivers came for the day-long conference, which was opened by the Gerald Oriel, Jr, Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities.
Next was a lecture by David Charles, the Coordinator for the Adaptive Materials Bank, about the appropriate way to interact with people who have various disabilities (wheelchair users, people who are deaf, people who are blind, etc).
After that, I gave a talk entitled "What Every Caregiver Needs to Know About Cerebral Palsy" which included a mixture of pictures of patrients from the US as well as photos of several of the children here at Zanmi Beni.
After my talk, we had a question and answer session that ranged from what causes spina bifida, to wether a seizure disorder is contagious.
Conference participants then took a tour of Zanmi Beni, followed by lunch of talapia (they have a talapia farm here that feeds residents and workers and also brings in money through sales to other organizations, plantains, rice and beans, and watermelon.
After Lunch, Dr Forsythe and I went to the physical therapy gym where we evaluated children from farway villages whose parents had brought them to be seen as part of the conference. We saw several interesting cases including one boy with disarthria who appeared to be tongue-tied (he was referred for possible frenulum release) and another girl with Down Syndrome.
The last case of the day was the most impressive, as a man brought his 26 year old daughter who, over the past 7 years, had worsening swelling of her body and a growing mass in her abdomen. We told him that she appeared to have Cushings Syndrome which might be related to a tumor (the growth in her abdomen) that was releasing too much cortisol into her body. Our hosts took their information and said that they'd work to get an imaging study of her abdomen and the appropriate blood tests and follow-up.
All in all, it was a very productive day, and we were repeatedly thanked by hosts and attendees for coming here.
Tomorrow, we're scheduled to travel to the US Embassy as well as to Partners in Health's new hospital in Mirebelais (about an hour away). Should be an interesting trip.