Haiti's health care system, a patchwork of public and private facilities, was struggling prior to the pandemic. Instability and its root causes of poor governance, corruption, and poverty have resulted in poor access to health services for most Haitians. BBC journalist Will Grant writes below that will every country in the Americas will be impacted by the coronavrius (COVID-19) pandemic, Haiti lacks the capacity and financial resources needed to increase its preparedness. As has long been the case, the hard work of addressing growing health needs falls upon non-governmental organisations such as Partners in Health who received Haiti's first cases.
Partners in Health
Three years ago, Partners in Health (Zanmi Lasante) and the Haitian Ministry of Health opened a major research, training, and practice hospital in Mirebalais. As part of this complex, Zanmi Lasante is opening a new reference laboratory. What this means for patients is a quicker diagnosis, better treatment, and more positive health outcomes. Learn more about Partners in Health's work in Haiti here.
Today is, of course, Mother's Day. In too many parts of the world, becoming a mother is a serious threat to one's health. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl of Partners in Health remind us in the Washington Post that it doesn't have to be this way. We have the knowledge needed to protect pregnant women and their children. What is lacking is the will and the committment. Drawing from their experiences in Haiti, Partners in Health is applying their rights based approach in Rwanda and elsewhere. The article is copied below.
Haitian leaders tend to get bogged down in ever-unstable Port au Prince. It is a matter of political survival. However, most of Haiti is rural and certainly most of what is good about Haiti is to be found outside of its largest city. Recently President Preval made a public tour of the Central Plateau. We were happy to see that public health was a recurring theme of his trip. Regardless of one's political beliefs, we can all agree increased attention to public health is essential. When a person has health, a person has hope. Where there is hope, there is also the possibility of development and a better future.
Members of the Haiti Innovation Community are by now no doubt familiar with the organization Partners in Health and the pionerring work their team has done in Haiti bringing community based health care to the lowest possible resource settings, and in particular, developing novel new approaches to treating both HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis.
An article on the Partners in Health website recently caught my eye. For those not familiar, Partners in Health is a non profit organization that pioneered community based methods of treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in low resource settings with incredible success. The program started in Haiti and was expanded into Latin America and Africa.