Photo: Stockroom manager Melick Derius with some of the new oxygen bottles purchased for Justinien University Hospital’s pediatric service with a donation from Amitié Hispaniola (Friendship Haiti).
In 2009, SwiMSA (Swiss Medical Students Association) contacted us about its new project, Amitié Hispaniola (Friendship Haiti), and asked how it could support our work. Representatives from SwiMSA visited Cap-Haitien, and the organization decided to develop a long-term project with the aim of supporting Justinien University Hospital with medical goods in collaboration with Konbit Sante.
Through the years since, SwiMSA has shipped medicines and supplies, and literally held bake sales to raise money to help purchase essential medicines, equipment, and other inventory. The student-led organization has had many changes in leadership over the years; still, Amitié Hispaniola has always found a way to help.
Sadly, SwiMSA recently informed us that it will be dissolving Amitié Hispaniola due to lack of student participation. As a parting gift, it gave Konbit Sante a generous final contribution that we have used to purchase oxygen containers for the new pediatric service at Justinien University Hospital.
“…We decided to give all we have where it did a good job over the years,” said Nora Baltensperger of SwiMSA. “With Konbit, we had a trustworthy partner, and we’re sure they support Haiti the best they can.”
Konbit Sante has been working for years to help JUH reduce its newborn mortality rate. One problem that used to be a common contributor was the lack of oxygen available for treatment. We worked with JUH leadership to develop a strategy that relied more heavily on oxygen concentrators (electric machines that generate oxygen for individual patients). This strategy worked well for years: the newborn mortality rate decreased, and the lack of oxygen rarely appeared as an issue in infant mortality reviews.
Recently, as public power has become less reliable, JUH has had to rely more on bottled oxygen rather than electric oxygen concentrators. However, there have not been enough large bottles available for lease to keep the oxygen in stock.
Thanks to the recent Amitié Hispaniola gift, we were able to purchase eight large oxygen containers dedicated to the pediatric service, which can be refilled well before they run out. We are also looking for funding to provide a back-up power supply at the pediatric service for essential equipment, including oxygen concentrators, so that the public power outages will no longer pose potentially lethal threats for newborns.
With its final gift to Konbit Sante, Amitié Hispaniola has helped ensure that medical oxygen—a basic yet essential component of any healthcare service—is readily available in the pediatric service. We thank them for this most generous gift, and for all the support they have provided to us over the past decade.