Spread of COVID-19 in Haiti requires increase in funding to aid response efforts
June 19, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly throughout Haiti and is now prevalent in every department, according to the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders. As a result, the need for supplies, equipment, and educational outreach has grown exponentially. Konbit Sante has spent about $15,000 per month since the beginning of the pandemic to do our part in meeting those needs in the Greater Cap-Haitien community.
According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the official confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Haiti is doubling every 5 days. However, even that is suspected to be a conservative estimate, as a lack of testing kits, a reluctance to seek treatment in healthcare facilities (considered by some to be epicenters of the epidemic) and a social stigma attached to the disease have combined to keep people from being tested. In addition, more than 24,000 Haitian migrant workers have recently fled the Dominic Republic, where the virus is widespread, and returned to their homes in Haiti, raising the risk of infection.
Unlike previous humanitarian emergencies such as the 2010 earthquake and the 2011 cholera epidemic, aid from other nations is scarce due to restrictions on international travel and product shipments. Despite the obstacles, our healthcare partners in Haiti are committed to fighting the pandemic in their communities, and Konbit Sante is committed to helping them.
Here is an update on our COVID-19 response:
- We are supporting all four of our healthcare partner facilities. Our oldest partner, Justinien University Hospital, is training designated staff members, reinforcing social distancing measures, staffing and maintaining a triage center, screening vehicles entering hospital grounds, training laboratory technicians on COVID-19 testing, and purchasing equipment. We purchased an additional 10 large oxygen containers for JUH and paid for site preparation that will house an oxygen generator provided by the Haitian government.
- We have distributed PPE (personal protection equipment) to locations designated as official COVID-19 treatment sites by the Haiti Ministry of Health, and are consigning more for distribution.
- We provided a tent for a COVID-19 triage area at the Fort St. Michel health center and provided funding for a permanent triage/waiting area at the ULS health center.
- We continue to contract with local tailors and seamstresses to purchase hand-sewn masks, which are then distributed to targeted areas determined to be most at-risk. The Ministry of Health has made the wearing of masks mandatory for all Haitians, but many people do not have the means to adhere to this mandate. To date, we have distributed more than 6,000 masks to people in the Greater Cap-Haitien community.
- We are supplementing the salaries of 20 agents de santé (community health workers) employed by the Ministry of Health to enable them to go door-to-door educating residents about COVID-19 prevention and symptoms. We are also providing funding for gasoline for a three-wheeled motorcycle that helps the agents reach remote areas and cover as much territory as possible.
- The agents are conducting training sessions on effective hand-washing techniques and monitoring the use of hand-washing stations to determine which need to be maintained and replenished with bleach and soap. We have supplied more than 600 buckets along with soap and chlorine for hand-washing stations thus far, and have contracted for more.
- We are winding down the use of sound trucks due to cost, but have purchased megaphones for agents de santé, and continue to pay for public service announcements airing hourly on two Cap-Haitien radio stations.
It is important to note that we cannot do any of this work supporting the Ministry of Health and our four healthcare partner facilities ourselves. We are being assisted by collaborating non-profit organizations, Rayjon Share Care, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities International, numerous partners in the global medical community, and, of course, supporters such as yourself.
As of this writing, we have raised almost $40,000 through the We Walk with Haiti campaign, so we are very close to reaching our $50,000 goal. Please help us get across that finish line so that we can continue to help our partners in North Haiti. To donate, click here or text “KONBIT” to 71777.