Over four months ago physicians, interns, nurses and other staff went on strike to fight for better pay and better working conditions in The Hospital of the State University of Haiti – the largest medical facility in the country. This strike spread to 12 other government-run hospitals across Haiti and has been devastating for an already severely under-resourced health system. According to NBC News, public hospitals primarily serve Haiti’s poor and have been crippled by the strike. While the staff are reportedly saddened about the strain this is putting on the most poor and vulnerable people in their country, they say it’s a necessity. “The state doesn’t give us anything to care for the patients,” said one third-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology, adding that even rubber gloves are scarce. He and many others place the blame on the governmental health ministry.
Fox News reported that these public hospitals in Haiti often lack the basics such as gauze, antiseptics, surgical gloves and sometimes even water. Power outages have even forced night-shift doctors to use light from their cellphones to complete operations.
Reportedly, pay has also not increased for residents in over 20 years. This has caused a steady stream of doctors to leave the public hospital system and seek other employment opportunities outside of Haiti. On the flip side, the government argues that residents are expecting too much. They have tried to come to an agreement by offering better pay, but believe the physicians and staff are asking more than is reasonable. The health ministry and the hospital staff are continuing their deliberations to come to an agreement on salaries and financial support from the government.
According to Fox News, “a hospital strike is the last thing Haiti needs. Life expectancy has long been the shortest in the Western Hemisphere. Mosquito-borne diseases, measles, meningitis and other scourges are common. Malnutrition and stunted growth are widespread. Cholera has killed at least 10,000 people since 2010, when it was introduced into the country, likely by U.N. peacekeeping troops. Few patients can afford prescription medicines, and private care is out of reach for many.”
With the chaos of the health system in Haiti, patients are thankful for the opportunity to have healthcare provided by non-profit organizations such as World Wide Village. When leaders in Williamson were asked about the biggest needs in their region, access to healthcare was at the top of the list. Now more than ever the Haitian people need your support in bringing steady and reliable healthcare to this rural part of Haiti.
An NBC News article reported that a bleeding pregnant woman died in May on the steps of Haiti’s largest public hospital because she was unable to receive care. This should not be. Please partner with us in building a permanent medical clinic as part of City on a Hill.