PORT-AU-PRINCE – With a precarious health care system, Haiti is about to get some help next month, albeit temporary. In collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Health, the hospital ship USNS Comfort will deliver health care to Haitians on April 9-19. Port-au-Prince, the capital city, is the first stop for the Comfort on a four-month mission throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean to provide medical care to those in need.
This voyage reflects the continued commitment of the Unites States to Haiti, according to American officials. More than 200 organizations are represented aboard the Comfort.
Still, critics said that the U.S could help by establishing a permanent hospital that is able to provide basic and high level health care to a country consistently ranked as having the highest rates of all sort of health related ailments.
Haiti provides a constant flow of medical professionals, from physicians to nurses aides. In fact, more than one third of all black doctors in New York State is of Haitian ancestry.
The top hospitals in Port-au-Prince are no better than a well equipped clinic in the United States. People often have to be medivac out of the country for sometimes routine medical cases and many people die from these ailments.
The crew of the Comfort, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and international partners, will offer medical treatment at two clinic sites in Port-au-Prince. Each clinic will be staffed by 5 primary care physicians, three dentists and an optometrist. Surgeries will also be offered aboard the ship after potential patients have been screened.
To make sure vital services reach those who are most in need, the Haitian Ministry of Health has identified seven medical centers that will conduct preliminary assessments and issue tickets for medical appointments at the two clinics and for surgeries aboard the Comfort. These assessments will begin April 1 at locations which have been identified by the Ministry of Health. They are as follow:
1- CHOSCAL/MSPP (Centre Hospitalier Ste Catherine Labouré) at Soleil 19, Cité Soleil
2- CHAPI-MSPP (Centre Haitiano Arabe, Plan International) at Avenue Soleil #18
3- Father Richard Franck (PELE) at Cité Soleil, zone Cité Militaire
4- Father Thomas HAGAN (Father THOM)
Delmas: HUP (Hôpital Universitaire La Paix) at Delmas 33
1- Hôpital Adventiste, Diquini 63
2- Arcachon 32 ci-devant Hôpital Food for the Poor
3- MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) Martissant
4- Hôpital de Carrefour, Route de Carrefour
and Pétion-Ville: Hôpital Eliazar Germain, Rue Pan Américaine, Pétion-Ville
The Comfort team also will be working with the Haitian Government to help strengthen Haiti’s health care system, officials say. Comfort personnel will provide training in life support and preventive medicine to medical students, offer health promotion training to high school and university students, repair biomedical equipment, provide veterinary services at the Ministry of Agriculture’s School of Agronomy and in Croix de Bouquet, and renovate the pharmacy at the General Hospital. Comfort will also be delivering supplies on behalf of several different humanitarian organizations operating in Haiti.
This mission exemplifies the critical importance which the United States Government places on healthcare as part of its overall assistance efforts in Haiti. In 2009, the American people will disburse over $126 million in health assistance to Haiti, ranging from HIV prevention and treatment to prenatal and family health, and in forms such as mobile clinics in the provinces, training for healthcare personnel and provision of essential medications and immunizations for children. It is estimated that over 47% of the Haitian population has access to USG-funded healthcare.