“Through Challenging Times, We Continue To Serve” Reflects CMMB Haiti Country Director
Haiti’s history has been punctuated by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters. COVID-19 is yet another catastrophe in this series, one with the potential to devastate the national healthcare system as the number of cases climbs.
The first few cases came from outside Haiti in March 2020. The lack of infrastructure, and the need of medical supplies and clean running water in both urban and rural areas are critical.
Haiti is now weathering a second wave. And given the nation’s fragile healthcare system, limited health literacy, distrust of the science, high population mobility, and preponderance of multigenerational households, this second wave is proving worse than the first.
Despite these challenges, and despite Haiti’s weakened health system, CMMB Haiti continues to serve the most vulnerable. Our staff are committed to the work and to our mission—to provide health services to women, children, and their communities. In impoverished Côtes-de-Fer, CMMB Haiti led in the fight against COVID-19. Before the] first case in March 2020, CMMB built a triage center and refitted a cholera center for COVID-19 patients who required hospitalization.
Educating the population proved the most difficult challenge. The population resisted masking up, especially because they did not personally witness many cases. We needed to ensure that the population understood preventive measures such as mask wearing and their importance.
Community health workers conducted home visits to explain the importance of continuing immunization so as not to lose the gains that their communities have made against preventable diseases. They also re-emphasized why babies need to be delivered by skilled birth attendants—to prevent maternal and neonatal mortality.
Community health workers also reminded HIV/AIDS patients to continue their treatment and to come for regular testing. The fear of COVID-19 affected everyone, but the engagement of CMMB Haiti staff and the trust that communities feel toward the health workers helped us through many days of the pandemic without great losses.
Years of providing care, building partnerships and the foundational elements of our CHAMPS program (Children and Mothers Partnership)— access to clean water, building healthcare capacity and access to medicines and supplies—proved pivotal as many of these practices mirrored the vital needs in helping treat and slow the spread of COVID-19. The expansion of our CHAMPS program will allow us to extend the reach and impact in our communities.
Even in these difficult times, CMMB staff will continue to travel to the countryside to provide services to the different communities we serve, where every human life is valued, and health and human dignity are a priority for all.
To you, who make this work possible, we say, Thank you. Merci.
CMMB Country Director, Haiti