Despite the Haitian government’s valiant efforts to protect its country from COVID-19, the virus made its first appearance in Haiti two weeks ago. As of April 6th, Haiti has 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus, although testing is not widely available in Haiti. COVID-19 brings special challenges to Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
First, the recommendations for slowing the spread of COVID-19 are very difficult to follow in a country like Haiti:
- Social distancing is nearly impossible in a country of 11 million people where crowded, public, outdoor markets and jam-packed public transportation are the norm. Extended families often live together in very small homes.
- Handwashing is also very difficult, as most Haitians do not have access to running water, and hand sanitizer is largely unaffordable for most of the population.
COVID-19 is also highlighting the existing gaps in Haiti’s healthcare. There are major shortages of necessary medical facilities and equipment to contain the virus and treat patients. According to a recent survey, there are only 124 ICU beds and the capacity to ventilate 62 patients. This is woefully inadequate for a country with 11 million people and a virus that can cause major respiratory issues.
Last but not least, the economy in Haiti is again taking a major hit. Just months after political protesting virtually shut down the country, COVID-19 is devastating this fragile economy. Food prices are skyrocketing, and the government is unable to offer unemployment support to the millions who are in need.
For these reasons, World Wide Village is more concerned than ever for the well-being of those we have been called to serve. COVID-19 is causing families in Haiti to lose jobs, education, food – everything that is already hard to come by when you live in low-income areas.
Please take a minute to give today and be a blessing to those with the greatest need.