Haiti's poor governance, failure to address the underlying causes of political instability, and weak response to COVID-19 continue to disproportionately affect the vulnerable. UNICEF estimates severe childhood malnutrition may double this year. Humanitarian assistance can and should be used to save the lives of malnutritioned children - but until the Haitian government has the will, capacity and resources to address the needs of its people, food security will remain the perpetual struggle. The full article by Associated Press journalists Pierre Richard Luxama and Danica Coto follows.
Last month, the U.S. State Department released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. As in previous years, the report noted serious shortcomings in the Haitian government's efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking. There is some good news, though - in 2014 the Haitian government enacted a law to criminalize human trafficking which is a welcome and much-needed step. The country narrative for Haiti follows below.
Of all countries in the western hemisphere, Haiti lags furthest behind in vaccination coverage. However, there are reasons for hope. The Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP), the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the GAVI Alliance, American Red Cross (ARC), and key countries such as the United States, Brazil, Cuba, and Canada have pledged to coordinate in expanding coverage, including the introduction of new and much-needed vaccines. The full press release follows.
Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking. Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively. Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.
Below is an article by Gerardo Reyes and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors in the Dominican Republic, both of which have increased since the January earthquake. Human trafficking occurs on both sides of the border. It will take a sustained, joint effort to ensure that migration is humane, orderly, and that minors are not being exploited as they are now. As the article makes clear, this will require tackling corruption within the border authorities. For more information, take a look at the U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports for the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Plumpynut, a peanut based paste, has revolutionalized the way in which severely malnourished children around the world are treated. Many young lives have been saved as a result. There is now increasing attention on how Plumpynut variants can prevent children from becoming malnourished in the first place. In Haiti, both Meds and Food for Kids (MFK) and Partners in Health (PIH) produce products similar to Plumpynut. In the below New York Times article, Andrew Rice describes the promise, politics, and profitability of Plumpynut. Considering the negative impact that malnutrition has on the health and cognitive development of children in Haiti, it is well worth a read.
Today is World Pneumonia Day 2009. Every day, 4000 children die from pneumonia in Haiti and other countries throughout the developing world. This is more than HIV/AIDS, measles, and malaria combined. Despite that, it has not been a global health priority. This could change as there is more attention being given this preventable and treatable disease. While there is no single magic bullet, there are a series of proven interventions that, if scaled up, would protect and promote the health of children around the world. Click here to learn which organizations participated in World Pneumonia Day 2009 and here to learn how you can be a part of the global fight against pneumonia, not just for one day, but throughout the year.
According to Jonathan Katz, public health workers plan to vaccinate some 1 million women and children this week around Haiti's capital after delays exacerbated by food riots and hurricanes. The effort marks the second phase of an international goal to immunize 5.6 million Haitian children - more than half the country's population - against diseases like polio, measles and rubella.