The Haitian government recognized a Norwich-based nonprofit this month for substantially impacting the HIV crisis in Haiti.
Haitian Health Foundation, one of just three organizations recognized, has brought health care, education and sustainable development to the people of Haiti since 1985.
Marilyn Lowney, its executive director, said she and her colleagues are especially proud of this award because “hundreds, if not thousands” of charities and organizations operate in Haiti.
“To have this fairly small nonprofit receive this award is pretty thrilling,” she said.
The foundation’s main clinic is in the city of Jérémie, about 180 miles from capital city Port-au-Prince, but it recently opened a second clinic in Dayere, 14 miles south of Jérémie.
The nonprofit employs about 200 people, many of whom are Haitian, and serves about 225,000 people in more than 100 rural mountain communities, Lowney said.
Its HIV work focuses on women and children, she said, because “maternal and child health is the most vulnerable in any developing country.”
Staffers test pregnant women and monitor those who test positive for HIV, using medication to prevent mother-to-child transmission whenever possible. They also educate the women’s partners on safe practices and the use of condoms, Lowney said.
Last year, Haitian Health Care tested more than 2,000 pregnant women.
“It’s a tough disease to work with because it brings down your immunity, and then you’re more susceptible to other diseases,” Lowney said. “But we’ve had more and more success with people living longer and fulfilling lives.”