A persistent epidemic
Cholera has been raging in Haiti since October 2010. Although the epidemic has been partly contained since then, this disease still remains a major public health concern in the country. Doctors of the World has been working to eradicate cholera in Haiti since the beginning of the epidemic. We currently cover six of the country’s 10 departments, handling approximately 40% of suspected cholera cases each year. Strong outbreaks affect the population regularly, especially during rainy season, and most often in the most remote areas. The disease, if not managed within a few hours of the onset of symptoms, can lead to rapid death. What makes it even more difficult for health centres to provide care is a lack of medical personnel, equipment and drugs.
Acute malnutrition is a public health crisis in Haiti. It is mainly caused by a massively unstable food supply, which worsens in times of drought. Malnutrition affects three million of the 10 million people living in this country. Thousands of malnourished families have little to no access to medical care. Recent data shows that it is even more serious among young children. A multitude of factors can lead to malnutrition, including poverty, lack of education and misconceptions surrounding the feeding of children and babies. They also have limited access to food, no access to quality healthcare, and poor or inadequate hygiene practices.
Women and children in danger
Haiti is among the countries with the highest maternal mortality rates in the developing world. The geographical distance from medical help is one of the main causes: it takes an average of three hours for women to reach a health centre. The high cost of care and the weight of tradition is another important limitation to accessing care. In addition, the population, and adolescents in particular, have little to no awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues. The quality of care, lack of public services, and dysfunctions in the current system make the situation difficult to improve.