Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) works in difficult and insecure environments around the world, including Port-au-Prince. Over half the city is controlled by gangs and fighting amongst them has caused MSF to temporarily close its maternity hospital. Many health care facilities throughout Haiti have been negatively impacted by insecurity - to the detriment of their patients who need their services more than ever. The full Al Jazeera article follows.
As Haiti's largest city, what happens in Port-au-Prince impacts the whole country - including hospitals which are unable to acquire fuel for their generators. Hospitals with solar power have been better able to cope. Konbit Sante helped the Hopital Convention Baptiste d’Haiti (HCBH) in Cap Haitien purchase solar panels which, in this sunny country, ensures at least some power is available. Below is an update from Konbit Sante on the situation in Cap Haitien. Updates from NGOs outside Port-au-Prince remind us that Haiti's struggles are nationwide.
Insecurity in Port au Prince and beyond continues to negatively impact the economy, health care, and other basic services throughout the country. MSF/Doctors Without Borders, which operates in insecure environments around the world, has temporarily shut down a second time. Due to lack of fuel, clinics are suspending operations - this at a time, when cholera cases are increasing. The UN is calling for a humanitarian corridor through which both fuel and aid workers can transit safely. It wouldn't solve the fundamental problems but it would at least reduce the severity fo the current situation. The full article article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald follows.
Good News! Upon having their generator stolen by a gang, the situation was grim for the Saint Croix Hospital in Leogane and the many people who depended upon it. With the support of Miami Herald readers, a new generator was purchased and transported to Leogane by boat in order to avoid having it stolen by gangs again. With their generous support the gang lost, the hospital re-opens, and much needed care can be provided to pregnant women. A small group of people committed to Haiti made a real difference in this situation.
Every aspect of Haitian society is being negatively affected by gangs, who in the absence of a functional government, operate with impunity. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported that a violent gang in Martissant stole the generator of the Sainte Croix Hospital in Léogâne and are holding it for ransom. The hospital is forced to shut down unless the gang returns the generator or another is donated. This is a tragedy upon an existing tragedy given Haiti's already very high infant and maternal mortality rates. The full article follows.
Haiti has yet to deliver a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. There are many reasons for this - a weak government, political instability, an already over-burdened health system, other pressing problems such as gang violence, and a false sense of confidence that the pandemic would affect Haiti only minimally. According to the Miami Herald, USAID announced a $16.1 million commitment to assist Haiti in the battle against COVID-19, it was providing lab equipment, disease surveillance, hand-washing stations and 50 oxygen concentrators to be distributed to 16 hospitals. It remains to be seen whether Haiti will be able to secure and use vaccines that the United States could provide. The full article by Jacqueline Charles is linked and copied below.
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.
Haiti has many surnames including "Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere", "Republic of 10,000 NGOs, and "at a Crossroads". For all is beauty and potential, it remains held back by poor governance, political intsability, and crushing poverty. It's a hard narrative to change when most of the coverage is of flawed elections (or no elections), power struggles, and protests. If the Haitian government truly wants to change how it is viewed it needs to show that it cares about and invests in its own people. The Miami Herald Editorial Board recommends starting with COVID vaccination - which has not yet taken place. It would be a start.
As of April 2021, Haiti still does not have vaccines to offer its population of over 11 million people. Political instability, insecurity, and poor governance continue to hinder efforts to procure vaccine and sensitize the public. Haiti was slated to receive 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but missed a crucial deadline for doing so. The more the Haitian government is prepared to do in responding to COVID-19, the more the international community can support it. The full article in the Guardian follows.
In these increasingly chaotic times it is good to be reminded of the work being done by Haiti's heroes - and Dr. Jean William "Bill" Pape is one of them. Dr. Pape, one of the country's leaders in preventing and responding to infectious diseases, will be one of nine people around the world tapped by the World Health Organisation to provide guidance to its director. It is an honor for him, and honor for Haiti, and a reminder that progress is possible in spite of political instability. You can learn more about his work to date by visiting the GHESKIO website and the full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.