Fritznel is a housekeeper at the Hôpital Sacré-Coeur of Milot in Haiti, the largest non-governmental hospital in the region, and the primary health care facility for a population of 225,000. He has worked at the hospital for more than a year. While he is only 20 years old, Friztnel, and the others employed at the hospital, recognize that working in health care puts them at high risk of contracting Hepatitis B.
The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. It causes inflammation of the liver to the infected person and can be life-threatening. Nurses and others who work in hospitals are at higher risk for becoming infected with Hepatitis B because of their close proximity to and interactions with sick patients. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all health care workers be vaccinated against the Hepatitis B virus.
But in Haiti, where financial resources are limited, vaccinating all health care workers can be a challenge. That is why Project HOPE stepped in to help. At the request of Hôpital Sacré-Coeur, Project HOPE in partnership with Merck & Co., donated 1,500 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine to immunize the entire hospital’s staff.
To date, Friztnel, and his colleagues have received two of the three dose regimen of the Hepatitis B vaccine, and he appreciates that the vaccine is not only protecting his health, but his livelihood as well.
“Haiti can be a dangerous place to be a health care worker,” added Harold Previl, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Hôpital Sacré-Coeur of Milot. “Thanks to Project HOPE, my colleagues and I are now two-thirds of the way to being fully protected from the Hepatitis B virus. The good people at Merck and Project HOPE have made a meaningful difference in our lives and, for that, we are truly grateful.”
Worldwide 400 million people are living with Hepatitis B or C. Every year 1.4 million people die of Hepatitis B or C, and all of these deaths could have been prevented. That is why the World Health Organization made World Hepatitis Day one of only four official disease-specific world health days, to be celebrated each year on July 28.
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