Street Vendor Pharmacists

Due to the lack of pharmaceutical access in Haiti, people are buying and selling all types of medicine on the streets. These street vendor pharmacists sell medicines ranging from ibuprofen to Viagra and even high-powered antibiotics.

The reason for Haiti’s lack of access to pharmaceuticals is due to a lack of infrastructure. Haiti’s medical infrastructure is underdeveloped due to government instability and several natural disasters that have occurred over the last decade.

Because of these events, Haiti has not had the ability to stabilize their infrastructure. This has led to a decrease in the availability of goods, including pharmaceuticals to treat various diseases and ailments.

The street vendor pharmacists carry large plastic buckets stacked high with different medications, held together with rubber bands. They try to stack the pills in an aesthetically pleasing way so as to attract more people to their bucket. Nearly all of these vendors have little to no knowledge about the medication they sell. While there are pamphlets available for them to learn the purpose of these drugs, they are limited in quantity and scope.

While these street vendors are helpful for Haitians in need of medicine, it’s not a business that can last. Many of the medicines that these vendors acquire are expired or counterfeit, and rather than helping people, they make them feel worse.

According to an interview with journalists Paolo Woods and Arnaud Robert, these vendors do not have the intention of hurting their customers. While they want to help those who are in need of medicine, they are also trying to make a living for themselves.

With the help of organizational intervention, Haiti is rebuilding its pharmacies and health clinics to better provide for its people. Organizations such as Plan International Canada and Plan International Haiti are working to make healthcare accessible to Haitians in a sustainable way.

Rebekah Covey
Photo: Flickr