Providing Essential Health Services in Remote Corners of Haiti

Providing Essential Health Services in Remote Corners of Haiti

Women, men and children stand in line at the St. Joseph's Health Center in Abricots, Haiti. {Photo credit: Gumy Dorvilmar/MSH.}Photo credit: Gumy Dorvilmar/MSH.

It was 11 o’clock one February morning when the Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haiti (SDSH) project technical team arrived on site at St. Joseph Health Center.

The center’s activities were well underway. Dozens of people sat on benches or stood in line, waiting for their turn. One person comes to care for her child who has had a high fever. Another comes for contraception. Another just gave birth to a healthy infant.

St. Joseph Health Center is located in Abricots, a remote community in the department of Grande’Anse, Haiti, far from Port-au-Prince. Abricots is nearly inaccessible because of rough terrain and hazardous mountain trails.

Since 2007, with support from the USAID-funded SDSH project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), St. Joseph Health Center has provided a basic package of health services: pediatrics, maternal health, reproductive health, detection and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and family planning.

This free clinic is the only health institution in this hard-to-reach area, serving an estimated 32,000 people.

Toussaint Dalmise runs the center. "Usually we work up to 4 p.m. in the afternoon. However, there are always emergencies. Even very late in the evening there are times we get called for an emergency. This is the only place where people can receive care," she said.

In this remote corner of Haiti, away from the urban infrastructure, a dedicated team of 4 nurses, 5 assistants, 18 health agents, 28 technical birth attendants, and 1 laboratory technician, work day and night to provide primary health care services to the population. They also organize mobile clinics.

“Imagine for a moment we did not have this project in the area; pregnant women would have to travel for hours by donkey to arrive at the nearest hospital, St. Anthony of Jeremiah," said Toussaint.“The work of MSH is very important in the village. It is through the SDSH project that the population is able to access health care.”

Ronise Mesidor rests next to her baby at St. Joseph's Health Center in Abricots, Haiti. Photo credit: Gumy Dorvilmar/MSH.

Gumy Dorvilmar is the communication officer for MSH’s Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haiti (SDSH) project. SDSH provides funding to 81 nonprofit clinics and 79 Ministry of Health public service delivery areas located in previously unserved or underserved remote locations. The basic health services package is delivered through 160 service delivery sites to an estimated target population of 4 million people (43 percent of the Haitian population).