ICC founders Jim and Virginia Snavely first visited Haiti in 1961 while on vacation. Overwhelmed by the plight of children with active tuberculosis (TB), they returned in 1965. Two years later, GCH opened in Port-au-Prince to care for tubercular children. Today, GCH is recognized as Haiti's leading medical facility dedicated to the treatment of children with TB, and is contracted by the Ministry of Health in Haiti as its principal partner in the national TB program.
In 1974 ICC embarked on a national TB control program called the "Crusade Against Tuberculosis" (CAT). With the support of the Ministry of Health and the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), ICC developed a nationwide TB program. The CAT program consisted of a mass BCG vaccination campaign, diagnosis and treatment of TB at existing clinics throughout the country, and the training of community health workers in the sputum smear diagnosis and ambulatory chemotherapeutic treatment of patients with TB.
In 1979, CAT expanded beyond BCG immunization to include Case Finding, Treatment and Education (CFTE), a program which eventually targeted and aided over 100 partner clinics throughout the country with technical and material assistance in the fight to find and treat active cases of TB. By 1981, ICC had developed a reputation for solid expertise in the arena of TB control in Haiti. At that time, ICC had completed a mass immunization campaign, systematically vaccinating over 3 million people throughout the entire nation of Haiti.
Because HIV infection is the most potent risk factor for developing TB, and TB is the most common cause of death in HIV-positive persons, ICC began to protect against the double threat of TB and HIV. In 2005 ICC inaugurated anti-retroviral (ARV) medical treatment for children and adults with HIV/AIDS thanks to partnerships with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Although access to ARV therapy does not cure the HIV infection, it can relieve suffering, decrease infectivity and give children and adults years of productive life. The ARV treatment services, coupled with the counseling services ICC has offered for years at GCH, has brought, and will continue to bring, better health and new hope to Haitian people who suffer from this disease.
GCH continues to be internationally recognized for its TB/HIV treatment. In 2011 at the HEALTHQUAL All Country Learning Network (ACLN) in Namibia, GCH won an award for their poster: "Improving TB Screening in HIV Positive Patients Through Quality Improvement." GCH received the same recognition at the ACLN conferences in New York (2013) and Paris (2014).
You can help continue to support ICC in the fight against TB and HIV by making a donation today.