By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President

Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Close to 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Finding enough food to eat, clean water to drink, a safe place to live and quality health care can be both a challenge and just a dream for many.

 Only 36 per cent of births in Haiti take place in health facilities, and only 37 per cent of women give birth under the care of a skilled birth attendant – such as a doctor, nurse or midwife. This means that children are often born into unsanitary conditions and the consequences have been alarming: women dying in childbirth is about 100 times greater in Haiti in than across North America as a whole, and 67 children per thousand die before reaching their fifth birthday.

Poor nutrition compounded by poverty renders medicines ineffective in many cases and the general shortage of medical professionals (25/100,000 as opposed to 230/100,000 in the USA) makes training a new generation of Haitian medical providers a high priority. Clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing is in short supply, which continues to fuel the spread of various waterborne diseases.

With so many families focused merely on survival, many Haitian children never get the chance to receive even a basic education or healthcare. Haiti’s literacy rate is a dismal 61.7 percent.

According to the United Nations, hunger levels are rising unabated as persistent political instability, growing inflation and recurrent disasters continue to conspire against the people of Haiti.

MedShare has a long history of providing hope and healing for the people of Haiti. Since 2010, MedShare has delivered over $10 million in medical supplies and equipment to Haiti to help strengthen the country’s fragile health system.

We’ve continued our efforts by collaborating with key partners like Food for The Poor (FFTP), which began working to help poverty-stricken children and families in Haiti in 1986. Today, the organization is one of the country’s largest providers of emergency relief and sustainable development projects.

MedShare recently partnered with FFTP to donate over $300,000 worth of medical supplies to two hospitals – Centre Hospitalier Fontaine Duvivier and Hôpital Universitaire de La Paix in Delmas. The 800 cases of critical medical supplies donated included personal protection  equipment (PPE), infant T-Piece Resuscitator Circuits, infant Ambu Bags, Avent baby bottles, Abdominal Transducer Belts, endoscopic cutters, catheters, cannulas, dressings, bandages, ligating clips, surgical drapes and several other essential supplies required to improve the quality of care.

Centre Hospitalier Fontaine Duvivier maternity ward sees about 20 pregnant women per day, and 20 to 30 children are born each week, with a caesarean section rate of 30 percent. For the many pregnant women who give birth here and are able to make it to a hospital, having these medical supplies at the hospital’s disposal is a vital part of the care they will receive.

“An assortment of surgical supplies and personal protective equipment is essential to any hospital, and especially at Centre Hospitalier Fontaine Duvivier, where so many women come to give birth,” explained Valentine Guirand, Food for The Poor’s in-country partner representative.”

Hôpital Universitaire de La Paix in Delmas specializes in wound care, and with the recent uprising in gang violence, the facility has seen a large increase in these types of cases.

“Patients come from all over the country every day to get new bandages,” Valentine said. “The hospitals are always thankful to receive medical supplies because the consumption is so high. Our hospitals are unable to keep up with the high cost associated with medical supplies nowadays, so the facility was incredibly grateful for this.”

“Without the donations from MedShare and  Food for The Poor, most of our patients who come from many slums in Port-au-Prince would not be able to receive care,” Dr. Daguil expressed. “The impact of these donations is far greater than the donors could have imagined, and it fills me with hope to have this support.”

In healthcare, professional-grade medical supplies are a must to ensure the best possible health outcomes. Thanks to MedShare’s partnership with Food for The Poor, two main hospitals in Haiti are now equipped to provide adequate maternal and child healthcare, as well as other general care.

Closing the gap in quality primary and secondary healthcare is essential to improving global health outcomes. When quality primary care is available, it meets the critical healthcare needs of patients and decreases the need for further, more critical care.
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