Health workers have been committed to wiping out malaria in Haiti and have succeeded in halving the incidence of the disease since 2010. Like so many of the illnesses and diseases prevalent in Haiti, malaria is preventable and treatable. Unfortunately, Haitian hospitals are lacking in resources, money and staff, and often struggle to provide even very basic care. To fight against Malaria, Haitian health workers have been working with a U.S. organization, Malaria Zero, which has supported an innovative program to record, monitor and treat the spread of the disease. Collaborations like this provide an opportunity to share skills and training, which in turn empowers local doctors and nurses to improve access to adequate and appropriate health care throughout the country.
Teaching Emergency First Aid
Besides tackling spreadable diseases, action is being taken to improve first response in emergencies. A nurse from New York who offered her services in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 was surprised at the lack of basic first aid knowledge. As a result, she has been motivated to form an organization to educate local communities on first response, disaster preparedness and CPR. The use of CPR is complemented by an automated external defibrillator (AED), a safe and easy-to-use device that can deliver an electric shock to the heart to re-establish a correct rhythm. With functioning AED Pads, these invaluable accessories can quickly save lives in the event of cardiac arrest. With better knowledge, and equipped with such life-saving apparatus, local health workers are in a position to deal effectively with health emergencies.
Collaborating to Create Opportunities
Haiti lost more than 50 hospitals and health clinics during the earthquake, and has since struggled to rebuild a healthcare system to meet the needs of the population. Many international organizations work with locals to improve conditions. One of these organizations, Project Medishare, began providing assistance long before the quake and it continues to do so. As part of the project, volunteer doctors and nurses from the University of Miami work with local health workers to share their skills. As well as training, two years ago Project Medishare also established a new wound care clinic to help improve specialised medical treatment provided in the country.
Sharing Skills to Transform Lives
Haiti is slowly making progress in some areas of healthcare and has seen a steady decline in infant mortality over the past few decades. However, it still has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the Americas. This problem is being addressed with an ambitious program to train more midwives to work in birth centres such as Marigot’s Centre de Santé. With funding from the United Nations Population Fund, the care given here by trained midwives is keeping women and their babies safe throughout pregnancy and labour, even in poor conditions.
A lack of money, resources and staff has hindered advancements in health care in Haiti. However, some areas of health are starting to see an improvement. With the help of international organizations willing to share their skills, knowledge and funding, Haitians will be empowered to heal themselves in the future.