COVID-19 response accelerates in Haiti
April 24, 2020
We are continuing to support our partners in Haiti as they work to educate their communities about COVID-19 and prepare to receive coronavirus patients for treatment. While at this writing the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Haiti is low (72 cases, of which 5 have died), this may be underreported due to the lack of available testing kits, a lack of consistent health reporting in general in the country, and the social stigma that unfortunately has been applied to those who show signs of infection. As has been the case in densely populated areas around the world, the numbers are expected to grow dramatically, so early intervention is essential.
We must also not forget that our partners continue to face the same issues that existed before the pandemic, many of which—disruptions in inventory, aging infrastructure, understaffing in medical facilities, a lack of potable water, an unreliable power grid, and more—have been exacerbated by this crisis.
Thanks to your generous support during the past year, we have been able to help our partners as they navigate through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your continued support will be essential as we endeavor to continue that help in the weeks and months ahead. Here are some of the steps we have taken over the past several weeks:
- We have been hosting a weekly virtual COVID-19 meeting that is attended by members of our U.S. staff, Haiti staff, and members of our board of directors as well as representatives and colleagues from our partner facilities and organizations in Greater Cap-Haitien. This group is actively planning prevention and response measures in the communities that we serve.
- We hired a local “mobile” (a pickup truck with large speakers in the bed) to drive through communities and broadcast the Haiti Ministry of Health’s taped message on COVID-19 prevention.
- In tandem with the mobile, agents de santé (community health workers) have been going door-to-door in their communities, speaking with residents and distributing flyers to educate them about ways to keep themselves and their communities safer by decreasing the transmission of COVID-19, and how to get help if they show signs of illness. (Agents de santé are employed by the Haiti Ministry of Health and receive training and salary support from Konbit Sante.)
- Agents de santé have also set up “sanitation stations” of sealed water containers with faucets to provide residents with clean water and soap to wash their hands, a major prevention strategy that is not accessible to many in poorer neighborhoods.
- Last week, we shipped a 40-foot container of supplies and equipment that will better enable our partners to respond to COVID-19 while also providing health care nonrelated to the virus. The contents ranged widely from surgical instruments and oxygen concentrators to megaphones for agents de santé to use in their COVID-19 community outreach. We are currently working with a number of partners to ship a second load of essential materials.
- We are actively researching other avenues of support, such as the possibility of working with other NGOs to make protective face masks. We will keep you informed of new developments as they occur.
Once again, we could not do any of this without your support. A global crisis requires a global response, and we are constantly reminded of the selflessness and generosity of our supporters from the U.S., Haiti, and around the world.