Konbit Sante Releases 2008 Annual Report
Konbit Sante is a non profit organization based in Portland, Maine. Their focus is improving the physical infrastructure of Cap Haitian’s Justinian Hospital and building the capacity of its staff. Konbit Sante has helped to upgrade facilities, water supply, electricity, medical equipment, and computer information systems. In addition, it has set in place numerous training opportunities for health care providers. The attached annual report provides background on their accomplishments in 2008. Especially exciting is the new Women’s Initiative, dedicated to improving maternal health.
Hôpital Universitaire Justinien (Justinian Hospital) is a 250-bed teaching hospital operated by the Haitian Ministry of Health. The hospital is the largest health care provider in northern Haiti and serves an estimated 825,000 people. Its residency programs include medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, OB/GYN, family practice, and schools for nurses and laboratory technicians.
In Haiti, women and children suffer most acutely from a lack of access to health services. Despite its growing cities, Haiti remains a largely rural country. Without access to health care facilities and skilled birth attendants, most women deliver at home. This places both mother and child at risk. Maternal mortality in the Dominican Republic is a quarter of that in Haiti.
Konbit Sante's involvement in women's health began in 2005 when they received funding from the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation to carry out a reproductive health needs assessment. With support from USAID, they hired an OB/GYN physician to spearhead a new women's health initiative.
One of their primary activities is to partner with traditional birth attendants (matrons) in rural areas by providing training, distributing safe delivery kits, and tracking delivery outcomes. The matrons are taught how to identify high risk pregnancies for referral to the Justinian Hospital. Presently, Konbit Sante is working with 25 matrons and has enrolled several hundred mothers in pre-natal care.
Konbit Sante is not large, but as a colleague from the Ministry of Health noted, "They are with us every step of the way." What they lack in size, they make up for in committment. Their programs are successful because they ensure that Haitian counterparts have the knowledge, tools, and support they need to advance medical care and public health in Northern Haiti.
After reading the annual report, take a look at this video introduction to their work. If their mission resonates you, you can support them with an online donation. There may also be volunteer opportunities to provide training to health care providers, build the hospital's physical infrastructure, and raise funds. In kind goods are appreciated - click here for a list of items that are in short supply.
Konbit Sante is in it for the long haul and I look forward to the expansion of their programs, particularly concerning much needed maternal health services. If you are have questions or are interested in a visit, either in Maine or Cap Haitian, you can reach them at email@example.com.