SCMS: Providing Life-Saving Medicines in Haiti

SCMS: Providing Life-Saving Medicines in Haiti

Yvonise is a good-natured 40-year-old woman with an easy smile. She is mother to four children: two boys and two girls. Her youngest, a little girl, is six years old.

Today, Yvonise sits patiently at the pharmacy of Hôpital Immaculée Conception de Port-de-Paix (HIC Port-de-Paix) in Haiti, waiting for Miss Sevrine, her caregiver, to provide her with a month’s supply of life-saving medicine.

Yvonise is one of 2,200 patients enrolled in the HIV/AIDS program at HIC Port-de-Paix. She was infected years ago with the AIDS virus, but her family does not know. Keeping her secret is a constant burden.

“I tell my kids that I have an infection for which I am being treated,” she said. This is how she justifies her monthly trips to the hospital.

Yvonise knows first hand how important it is for her to keep her appointments. “Since I’ve been coming to the clinic and taking my medication, I’ve been feeling more energetic,” she said, grinning from ear to ear.

Having energy is important to Yvonise; she wants to keep up the façade of good health and counsels her children about the dangers of unprotected sex. Yvonise’s estranged husband recently returned home after a four year absence. She is worried about infecting him, but so far has been careful to avoid intimacy. “He asked me why I was going to the hospital today, but I didn’t tell him the truth. He only knows that I am going for ‘treatment.’"

Hôpital Immaculée Conception de Port-de-Paix, where Yvonise is a patient, is one of the approximately 160 PEPFAR sites that Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), a project managed in Haiti by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), delivers life-saving medicines to.

In addition to antiretroviral medicines and drugs to treat opportunistic infections such as Tuberculosis, SCMS provides rapid test kits for AIDS screening to the hospital, where over one thousand tests are performed on a monthly basis.

SCMS also offers technical assistance in stock management to HIC staff and has trained 90 percent of the hospital employees, including pharmacists, dispensers and lab technicians. The HIC staff have learned how to write accurate and reliable consumption and stock reports and how to arrange drugs by order of expiry to limit medication expiring.

As a result of this technical assistance, there has been no stock-outs at the hospital since SCMS started working with them, explained Célima Isor, Head of Laboratory at HIC Port-de-Paix.  To Madame Isor, “no stock-outs means that patients who often travel long distances to come to the lab always get tested and are never sent away."

Like hundreds of patients who still fear the stigma associated with AIDS, Yvonise travels three hours to Port-de-Paix from her hometown of St. Louis du Nord to keep her community from knowing she has the virus. She finds comfort at the hospital, surrounded by caregivers like Miss Sevrine and Miss Anna-Lange, who are concerned about her well-being. She is grateful for the monthly supply of Cotrimaxazole, multivitamins and iron supplement that she receives at the hospital’s pharmacy, at no cost to her, thanks to SCMS and US government funds.

“I’ve never had an unsuccessful visit to the clinic; there is always medicine waiting for me,” smiles Yvonise.

Holding on to her precious cargo, she is confident that she will stay healthy enough to raise all of her children.

Marie-Nadine Gaston is client relations & activity coordinator for Supply Chain Management System (SCMS).