Five Facts about Healthcare in Haiti
Haiti is known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Unsurprisingly, the Caribbean country also reports some of the lowest health indicators in the world due to a number of factors including weak infrastructure and low public health care spending. Keep reading to learn the top five facts about health care in Haiti.

5 Facts About Health Care in Haiti

  1. Lack of Infrastructure: frequent natural disasters, such as the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, make it difficult to maintain basic health facilities in Haiti. For example, the 2010 earthquake destroyed 50 health centers, part of Haiti’s main teaching hospital and the Ministry of Health. Lack of basic infrastructure also limits the accessibility of clean water and sanitation systems.
  2. Continued Effects of Cholera: following an earthquake in 2010, Haiti suffered its first cholera outbreak in a decade, when infected sewage contaminated a river. Approximately 10,000 people have died of cholera, while more than 800,000 have contracted the infection. Despite the United Nation’s promise to raise $400 million for a Haitian Cholera Relief Fund, the U.N. has raised only 8.7 million (2.2 percent of the amount promised). Even now, nearly a decade after the outbreak, cholera infects approximately 75 people every week. This outbreak continues to put a strain on the Haitian health care system.
  3. Child Malnutrition: 20 percent of Haitian children suffer from malnutrition. Further, half of these children are acutely malnourished. Malnourishment also contributes to high rates of childhood mortality in Haiti and 7 percent of children will die before their fifth birthday. For context, the childhood mortality rate of Haiti is exceptionally high, twice that of its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Even when malnourished children survive, malnutrition continues to affect them throughout their lives. The lack of adequate nutrients early in life reduces an individual’s physical and mental development going forward.As of January 2018, there are three active USAID programs in Haiti with a specific focus on nutrition.
    • Aksyon Kominote nan Sante pou Ogmante Nitrisyon (AKSYON)
    • Ranfose Abitid Nitrisyon pou Fè Ogmante Sante (RANFOSE)
    • Feed the Future West Chanje Lavi Plantè
  4. Lack of Preventive Care: more than half of health care spending in Haiti goes toward curative medicine, as opposed to preventive care. This focus stems primarily from frequent natural disasters in the area. Low numbers of health care professionals in Haiti make it even more difficult for Haitians to seek regular, preventive care. According to the World Health Organization, for every 3,000 citizens, there is only one trained doctor or nurse in Haiti.
  5. Low Public Healthcare Spending: despite health challenges in Haiti, the government’s spending on health has lowered drastically since 2002, going from 16.6 percent to 4.4 percent of the national budget. In fact, public per capita healthcare spending is only 13 dollars a year. This is significantly lower than per capita healthcare spending in neighboring Dominican Republic, which is 180 dollars per capita. With declining international assistance, low government spending makes primary health care in Haiti difficult to access.

The health care system in Haiti is constantly under strain, due to low government spending and frequent natural disasters. Poor health across the country debilitates its growth and development. The World Bank has made several policy recommendations targeted at changing the status quo in Haiti. Chief among them is a reallocation of resources from hospitals to more preventative care and primary clinics.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Unsplash

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Haiti
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world, including the U.S., sent a great deal of assistance to the devastated country. The U.S. has given about $13 billion to Haiti in foreign aid. Despite these efforts, the people of Haiti still face elevated poverty and hunger levels.

In October 2016, Haiti faced one of its worst hurricanes to date. Hurricane Matthew was a category four storm that caused severe damage and killed approximately 600 people. Many organizations continue to help repair the damage Matthew and earlier storms brought to Haiti. To understand the severity of the crisis, look below for the top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti:

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Haiti

  1. In April 2017, Haiti had the lowest food availability in the world. The Dominican Republic was the second lowest with Chad following in third. In the U.S., food availability is measured to be about 3,750 calories per person each day. In Haiti, there are about 1,976 calories per person available each day. This does not mean that each person has the opportunity to consume these many calories. Some Haitians consume far above this number while many consume far below it.
  2. Roughly 50 percent of Haiti’s population is undernourished. Even before the 2010 earthquake, 40 percent of households were undernourished. The already high number has risen as a consequence of repeated natural disasters in the country, like Hurricane Matthew.
  3. One-in-five Haitian children are malnourished. One-in-10 Haitian children are acutely malnourished. One-in-14 will die before age five.
  4. Haiti is the poorest country in the Northern hemisphere. Two out of three Haitians live on less than $2 per day. In comparison, the average American spends around $140 per day.
  5. Haiti’s main staple food is rice, importing 80 percent of it, despite the fact that 50 percent of the jobs in the country are related to agriculture and 25 percent of the country’s GDP comes from agriculture.
  6. Only 10 percent of Haitian agricultural lands are irrigated, which leaves the country extremely dependent on rain. This makes the country especially vulnerable as droughts can have an amplified impact on the population’s health and well-being.
  7. Haiti is the third most affected country by extreme weather. The weather has a severe impact on food resources available to Haitians because it can destroy crops and land. Haiti’s hunger and poverty levels are repeatedly exacerbated by cases of drought and hurricanes. Though these events are extremely tragic, the relief efforts that have followed such disasters have allowed other countries to see exactly how bad the hunger and poverty crises are. This has sparked an increased effort to provide aid and growth initiatives to Haiti.
  8. Fifty-nine percent of Haitian people live in poverty and almost 25 percent live in extreme poverty. The poverty rate in the U.S. fluctuates between 10 and 15 percent.
  9. Fewer than 50 percent of households in Haiti have access to clean water. Only 25 percent of households in Haiti have access to adequate sanitation. A lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation make the population more prone to diseases.
  10. A third of all women and children in Haiti suffer from anemia. Anemia is a condition that arises when a person does not have enough red blood cells. The disease often results when one faces deficiencies of particular nutrients – especially iron. It is particularly common in women because they lose blood at high rates through menstrual cycles. Anemia can cause severe organ damage if left untreated.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti highlight the dire conditions in the country. Though the hunger crisis persists, there are organizations working tirelessly to help the country and its people. An example of this is an organization called Action Against Hunger. This organization seeks to provide families in Haiti with agricultural training. This gives them not just short-term food relief, but also a long-term source of food and economic growth.

Natural disasters are inevitable and one cannot be sure when Haiti will face another great set back. However, if more is done to amplify the country’s growth now, Haiti will be better prepared to face such disasters and avoid some of its devastating consequences.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr