It’s no surprise that Haiti has some of the poorest health statistics in the world, particularly when you consider the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. But, what many don’t know is that Haiti’s health care has always been quite dismal. The earthquake just compounded an already horrifying situation.
Lack of a quality health care infrastructure contributes to Haiti’s poor health status. With the majority of Haitians residing in rural areas like Grand-Bois, most don’t have access to even the most basic health services.
St. Vincent de Paul Health Center:
When ServeHAITI first began providing healthcare services, Grand-Bois residents requiring care were seen in a makeshift “clinic” in the back of the local church- St. Pierre Parish.
Through the hard work and commitment of volunteers and the generous support of donors, ServeHAITI has been able to construct a the two-story St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Health Center in Grand-Bois, opening its doors in June 2005. Led by medical director, Dr. Leopold Florent Bourgouin, the Health Center serves over 14,000 patients annually.
The Health Center offers primary and acute medical, dental and malnutrition care; and perinatal and obstetrics, optometry, pharmaceutical and community health education services
Through an award funded by USAID under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-New Partner’s Initiative (PEPFAR-NPI, 2006-2010), the health center has done work in HIV education, voluntary counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and care of patients living with HIV/AIDS. After 2010, ServeHAITI continues to support over 40 HIV positive patients and their families.
Community Health Worker (CHW) Program:
ServeHAITI’s 12 Community Health Workers serve as liaisons between the Health Center and the community by working in the field and making home visits. Their mission is to be true agents of health in the region by providing quality health education and early identification of individuals who require care.
In 2007, ServeHAITI was awarded a PEPFAR grant to address HIV/AIDS in Grand-Bois. 15 individuals from the community were hired and trained to serve as agents (agents sante) and a full time social worker, Andre Fritz Jean Louis, was hired to oversee the program. When funding through PEPFAR ended in 2011, five of the agents and Jean Louis became employed by ServeHAITI and transitioned into roles that focused on the health of the entire community. And thus the Community Health Worker program was born!
At its inception, the Community Health Worker (CHW) program focused primarily on proactive outreach and hygiene and sanitation education. Since then, it has evolved to include messages about the importance of clean water, preliminary testing for high blood pressure and childhood malnutrition, perinatal referrals, and basic first aid.
In 2015, we were fortunate enough to hire and train an additional seven Community Health Workers. This increase means that each of Grand-Bois’ five zones now have at least two CHWs making home visits and referrals and advocating for the needs of their residents. They meet monthly to discuss any progress, struggles, or questions that may have arisen in their zone since the last meeting and brainstorm for solutions.
Upon making a home visit, the CHW does a brief general assessment of the living conditions and checks for a Gift of Water bucket. Any children under the age of two or adults over the age 70 are examined first for signs of malnutrition or other ailments. Pregnant women and adults over 30 are then tested for high blood pressure. If any individuals require medical attention, the CHW will refer them to the clinic to be seen by a medical professional; referrals for a free visit are given to first-time patients. Before leaving, the CHW typically gives a small speech about safe hygiene and sanitation practices and schedules a follow-up visit.
Each CHW visits an average of 100 households per month, meaning they are making contact with approximately 600 people in total. Collectively, they refer approximately 200 new patients to the Health Center each month – patients who would not have otherwise known about or benefited from our services.
How You Can Help our Health Initiative
- Give a donation toward the purchase of equipment and medical supplies
- Volunteer. If you’re a health professional or have interest in health care regardless of your background, join our medical volunteers. To volunteer please contact email@example.com, Liz McDermott
- CME – Learn how you can help out with our Continuing Medical Education Program.