Essential Gear & Purchase Links
Items to Bring
With over 30 trips to Haiti, we have refined our pharmacy list to treat our patients, our techniques of running our volunteer mobile clinic, and what items to bring along for our own comfort. The items below are suggested to bring if you are joining our Verrettes medical service projects. Many of the items listed below refer you to Amazon.com.
Anyone going on adventures or service projects in the tropics, should consider these suggestions. As Medical Student Missions is an Amazon Affiliate, your buying any items through these links will help us obtain the pharmacy products needed in rural Haiti for our Verrettes clinics. In addition, these links provide significant discounts from the list prices found elsewhere.
This polyester Coghlans Backwoods Double Wide Mosquito Net is olive green color, double wide, and suspends with poles or ropes (not included). The net is made of an ultra fine 196 polyester mesh with six reinforced tie tabs. The reason we chose this net over many others in the market is its extra wide construction and inexpensive cost. Extra wide as we sleep in a variety of beds – this will fit them all. Also, when you leave, you may want to give this to your assigned translator or someone else and this will fit several of their children or adults under its protective cover. Bring some cord and a small roll of duct tape to hang it and repair all the other things that will break on the trip. These nets usually cost retail $21.29, but you will find a hefty discount with this Amazon link. This netting must be treated with permethrin before your trip (see below)!
Water Bottle with Integrated Filter
During our 3 trips to Haiti, this is the one we have found to be the most dependable. It has a flip-top drinking spout that is covered completely when in the non-used configuration to protect the tip from wind-blown goat poop dust, etc. Normal a 0.1 micron filter requires a pressurized pump to use, but this system uses micro-pore technology similar to that used in renal dialysis – the mass of tiny tubules allows an easy squeeze to filter the water through. The water we will be accessing in Haiti will be potable, but it is still smart to run it through this filter. Also, while hiking on traveling, if an emergency happens and we must access a less secure water source, then you are ready for it!
This filter usually costs $49.95, so it is one of your major investment items – this link gives
a good discount. Mark it with your name using indelible ink or you will end up sharing it!
0.1 Micron absolute hollow fiber membrane inline filter with 34-ounce BPA free water
bottle, 63mm cap, backwash syringe, 2 replacement straws and instructions
Filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli;
removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium
Use filter with water bottle, on a hydration pack, or as an ultra light filter option;
also includes 63mm cap, backwash syringe, and 2 replacement straws
Polypropylene and polyethylene material is easily field maintainable
Backed by a manufacturer's limited lifetime warranty
Also available in the same technology at less price, is the smaller version of this
filter that screws directly onto a standard water bottle. It normally retails for $24.95.
Make sure it fits the water bottle you intend on using before you come. High performance
filter fits in the palm of your hand; weighs just 2 ounces; 0.1 Micron absolute hollow fiber
membrane inline filter
It attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs,
or use the straw to drink directly from your water source.
This comes in a number of colors, so you don’t get in arguments about whose filter is whose.
Permethrin Clothing Protection
This is the item that you DON’T bring with you, it is one of the most important to use before you go. A derivative of the chrysanthemum plant, this all natural product is an insecticide, not an insect repellant. It is not to be used on the skin – it won’t work on your skin as humans (and dogs) have an enzyme in their skin that detoxifies it (primarily carboxylesterase B1). Treat everything you own with this: underwear, socks, all outerwear, pajamas (actually too hot in Haiti for pajamas), and especially your bed netting.
It is mandatory that all of your clothing be treated with permethrin as a condition of participating on this trip.
Permethrin treated clothing and adequate ski protection is the ONLY preventative for Dengue Fever and Chikungunya Fever – and it reduces the chance of Falciparum malaria. In 31 trips with over 200 volunteers we have contracted no insect borne diseases, and insect control is how we achieved this (plus malaria prophylaxis – also mandatory).
The best product on the market for clothing treatment is the Sayer brand of permethrin spray. This 0.5% spray is applied to clothing before you go. It will last for a full six weeks, even if you get rained on daily and wash the clothes multiple times. Dry cleaning will, however, remove the permethrin – so don’t let your mother dry clean your clothes before going! Insect-killing insectacide for your clothing is effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes for up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings). It will not stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or outdoor gear and is odorless after drying.
A 24-ounce capacity treats up to 4 complete outfits. The non-aerosol pump bottle twin pack (good for 8 complete outfits) is linked below. This twin pack normally retails for $59.99 – but it offered through this Amazon link at discount.
Permethrin SFR 36.8% permethrin Quart 6666105 by Control Solutions is a 36.8 % Permethrin concentrate used as a termiticide and insecticide used for control of subterranean termites and is sold by the quart for $39.99, but available through this link at a major discount. This is EPA approved for termite control. The 0.5% spray will treat you clothing for 6 weeks, even with multiple washings. The Army uses a 2.5% solution for dipping combat clothing that will last for the life of the clothing (they mark the clothing for re-treatment after one year), but let’s face it, most combat clothing is going to be replaced within a year). And this stuff is 36.8%. We are not going to tell you to treat your clothing with a water diluted solution of this product. That would be illegal. And we are not going to tell you to do something illegal. We are also not going to do the math for you either.
Microfiber Travel and Sports Towel
Most Absorbent, Fast Drying, and Compact! Design with Sewn Hang Loop for easy hanging. Weighing less than 150 grams the Shandali Ultrasport Travel Towel is 51% lighter than leading cotton alternatives. This towel is 100% microfiber, which dries 287% faster than cotton, and it will even dry quickly when you have it folded up or stored in your bag. This towel has an extra-large loop that is very practical and will work in a variety of situations. We supply towels at our lodging, but having one or two of these, treated with permethrin at home of course, can be extremely helpful in the humid, tropical heat of Haiti. They make great pillow covers also. We provide pillows, of course, on this trip, but a dry sports towel makes a luxurious cool cover.
Get the 24 x 48 inch size.
Battery Powered Personal Fan
This sounds so wimpy, but wow, maybe the most important extra weight item you can bring. Under the mosquito netting in 95 degree heat, this thing is a life-saver. The slight noise it makes also helps cover up the barking dog noise (goes on to about midnight) and the rooster crowing (which goes from 1 AM until 6 AM). This fan has the following features: a tilting base, foam fan blades, a high and low fan speed, with a runtime up to 21 hours on low speed. It is powered by 4 D-cell batteries, so you will need to buy and hoof along about 8 of these for your trip. This linked price is the best price available. The normal retail is $21.99
Sawyer Premium MAXI-DEET Insect Repellent - 4 oz spray SP714
Deet is an effective and safe mosquito repellant. It must be used in concentrations above 30% to be effective against flies and biting gnats. This 2 pack of 4 oz containers is the most you would need for the trip. Haiti does not have a heavy mosquito burden where we are going, but the mosquitos there carry malaria, dengue, Chikungunya fever and that says it all. While head nets are not useful where we are going, skin insect repellent is critical. When using 100% deet, it must be applied to the hands and then rubbed elsewhere with care not to get it in the eyes and, unless you are a masochist, not on your lips.
Sawyer® makes the only Low-Odor 100% DEET on the market achieved through extra refinement which results in a purer DEET.
For those who do not want to use deet, the only acceptable alternative is picaridin. This has not been tested as extensively as deet, but in a concentration of 20% is effective against flies and biting gnats as well as mosquitos with this lotion formulation lasting 14 hours. Do not buy the formulations less than 20%.
After all of that discussion on the importance of protecting yourself from bites, properly heeded it would not seem that you would need an “after-bite” product to reduce the itching from the ones that got through. Well,
a word to the wise, you had better hope that at least someone has brought one of these along. This is a combination of benzocaine 10% and phenol 1.35%, so it has several uses.
The Cutters Off Bite and Itch Relief has benzocaine 5%, camphor 3%, and phenol 1.35% -- they are both
And to round out our list of suggestions, please note to following:
Scrubs – if you don’t have scrubs, any tropical weave shirt and pants will do.
Monogrammed scrubs also make great gift items.
Gift items – great idea. You will be working alongside an international group of
medical volunteers and if you want one of those Doctors without Borders scrubs
or Cuban Medical Brigade tee shirts, it’s nice to have an item to exchange.
Boots and comfortable sandals
Something really comfortable to sleep in. In the summer, skin works. Otherwise shorts, girls – whatever. We are not prudes. We have all seen Starship Troopers.
Cloths for a disco. Yep. There is one.
Shorts and short sleeve or T shirts
Flashlight or headlamp – Walgreens has been selling a cheap Eveready brand headlamp.
But you will need a light at night and sometimes in the hospital or clinic. Headlamps work best.
Poncho for rainy days
Camping toilet paper. We do have plenty of toilet paper at the Villa. Another item to consider
is wet wipes. Good to pack along to the clinics
Fanny pack – to carry the above.
Vodka (you are allowed 1 liter by Haitian customs, and this stuff makes great gifts). Get it in a
plastic bottle. Of course, you are bringing this for medicinal purposes.
Alcohol gel hand cleaner – strictly for medicinal purposes.
Personal medications to include your Chloroquine or other malaria prophylaxis medication
But NO CANDY FOR CHILDREN (other than your classmates or yourself).