During the last couple of months, we have managed to reach a lot of patients in both San Luis and Barranquitas, the two largest communities with HD in the world. We conducted two medical assistance visits with the local HD foundations and the medical foundation Primero Auxilios. This is really a remarkable Venezuelan organization and my heart goes out to them for the incredible help they provide the local populations, in spite of very difficult economic and social circumstances. On May 5, a team of 47 volunteers, including 21 medical students, 13 physicians, 2 nutritionists and 9 logistical coordinators drove 4 hours from Maracaibo to Barranquitas, by far the worst affected HD cluster in the world, and also the poorest. In spite of very difficult conditions, and with the help of the local ambulatory clinic, they saw almost 400 people with various conditions, including 47 HD patients. Over 200 kids were given basic medications for infections and other ailments. Even though they expected to see more patients (we estimate over 250 patients in this town alone), this was a very good first visit. The logistics of mobilizing affected patients, even if the event is held locally within the town, is difficult. There are periodic blackouts, safety concerns and the population is also desperate and hungry, which makes some people not very cooperative.
I have to congratulate the perseverance and dedication of these young volunteer clinicians and students, who speak volumes of the quality of the Venezuelan people and their dedication to helping those most unfortunate, even in a country practically devoid of functioning institutions and with a crumbling medical infrastructure.
I also have to thank the local Foundation, Fundacion Huntington Zulia, who accompanied the clinicians and mediated with the local community to ensure compliance and participation. We could not do our work without them.
Finally – without the medications, these events would not take place. We are immensely grateful to the Barcelona Huntington’s association (UEFH) and their President, Montse Serra, for helping purchase basic medications. Her team and also Dr. Saul Martinez, a neuropsychologist working in an Enroll-HD center, who helped procure additional medications. When I asked them for help, they responded promptly and were able to collect medications, and ship them through Healing Venezuela, our partner for medical shipments to Maracaibo.
On June 9 we also held another medical assistance day to San Luis- where they also saw a lot of patients. Thanks to the San Luis association (FAHUN) and their volunteers, who work tirelessly there to help their community. We are very proud of them!
Below you can see some beautiful pictures taken by a local photographer affiliated with Fundacion Primeros Auxilios.
Enjoy their poignancy and beauty! They are not forgotten and we will continue to help, in spite of all difficulties we and they face!
We hope to conduct these visits every 2-3 months, but for that we need medications! so please contact us to arrange for free shipments.