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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeCommentaryOpen Forum: Something Must Be Done to Ease Haiti's Healthcare Crisis

Open Forum: Something Must Be Done to Ease Haiti’s Healthcare Crisis

We all know firsthand the immense challenges that are impacting the healthcare delivery system in Haiti. Every week we are humbled by the heroic efforts you all take to serve your patients and your employees despite incredible odds. We’ve been asking what can we as a group do that cannot be achieved alone? What can we do to best support healthcare in Haiti in these unprecedented times?

One thing we believe we do have is VOICE. We represent over 200 healthcare facilities and over 1,000 healthcare providers and leaders in Haiti.

For the past 15 months the Haiti Health Network has been sounding the alarm for healthcare in Haiti and asking for some form of humanitarian relief so healthcare delivery can safely and effectively continue for the people of Haiti. Our email campaigns and meetings with government and U.N. leaders have offered some voice but still no action. Things continue to deteriorate with no end in sight.

Something has to be done. We’re asking for your input, your ideas, and to reach out to your networks to scream awareness of what’s really happening in Haiti.

We have drafted a healthcare appeal letter: “Haiti’s Death Spiral: How Much Worse Does it Have to Get?” We ask that you read and review this letter and please forward it on to your boards, donors, community leaders, government leaders, and church leaders. We hope this will help you explain the realities in Haiti to your partners and supporters and help get the word our repeatedly and consistently that something has to change.

What is the breaking point before something is done? Should we accept daily kidnappings and murders as a normal fact of life? Should we accept Haitians dying every day of starvation and cholera?

For over a year, the HHN has been sounding the alarm that healthcare is on the verge of collapse in Haiti, and that we were witnessing a humanitarian crisis unfolding. Haiti’s crisis has unfolded, and the deaths are spiraling out of control. Hospitals are unable to access medicines, medical supplies, and fuel, which are key to their functioning.

Most HHN members are operating at a drastic reduction in services that are offered, including nutrition programs, emergency child and maternal services, and HIV, malaria and cholera prevention and treatment.

There isn’t a member of HHN, staff, or patients that hasn’t been impacted by the horrific situation in Haiti. It is imperative that these healthcare organizations remain open and operate as close to normal as possible, as quickly as possible. This document addresses the situation from three points: (1) the current situation in Haiti, (2) the regional impact of the situation, and (3) the way forward.

The current situation in Haiti has gotten much worse than even four months ago, and the evidence is overwhelming. Haiti’s capital taken hostage by brutal gangs. The social and health conditions are rapidly deteriorating throughout Port au Prince, and many other areas of the country, where gangs are committing horrific acts of violence, causing thousands to flee their homes, including the revictimization of many.

Furthermore, according to the U.N. humanitarian chief in the Caribbean nation, it is estimated that the gangs are controlling about 60 percent of Port au Prince, including access to major roads, thus crippling transportation/distribution services for the entire country. In a video created by an HHN member who was forced to relocate a clinic in Croix Des Bouquets due to gang activity he gives a detailed report of the location of gangs and their respective areas of control.

In the fall of 2022, gangs seized the main fuel import terminal, blocking the delivery of diesel across the country, thus placing the delivery of healthcare, food, medicine, and emergency supplies at greater risk. Nothing has changed to prevent such an event from reoccurrence.

The U.N.’s Deputy Secretary-General urged every country “with capacity” to urgently consider the Haitian government’s request for an international armed force to help restore security and alleviate a humanitarian crisis, which is in “a deepening crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity that is cause for serious alarm.”

This request has caused numerous articles and forums highlighting the historical failures by the international community, and yet all these observations and opinions have had no impact on the actual security situation in Haiti. What we see is continued gang mobilization — with increasing acquisition of political, financial, territorial, and military control of large areas of the country — perpetuating a life of violence, illness, malnutrition, and where many people are dying every day.

We agree that a military intervention ought to be approached carefully, but the current situation cannot wait for long-term solutions to emerge from within Haiti. A Haitian-led solution ought to involve a national dialogue that addresses the freedoms Haitians should be enjoying in their country: political, economic, social, and personal security.

It is possible that there are ideas circulating about ways to restore security that are different from those tried previously. We need to listen to all ideas and insist on immediate solutions to the lack of security we are all experiencing in Haiti, as current conditions are unacceptable and inhumane.

What many HHN members witness first-hand is the impact that inaction is having on the personal security of Haitians, thus preventing all other freedoms from materializing.

We all want the same thing — a peaceful Haiti, led by Haitians — yet this is not possible given the current realities. Among us, there are many leaders that are in the position to address these challenges and alleviate the immense suffering and incredible danger people are facing in Haiti.

We are asking for your help in sharing this communication with as many people as possible in your network — family, friends, neighbors, volunteers, donors, religious leaders, and political leaders.

— Mandy Thody is the executive administrator of the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti, the organization that builds and runs schools in Haiti.

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