Healthcare is Mission Critical to Building Haiti Stronger!
Updated: Feb 22
Did you know that:
Haiti is THE poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?
Six million Haitians live on less than $2 per day?
Only 4.4% of government funding is committed to healthcare (compare that to 50% in the U.S.).
With these disheartening statistics, it’s easy to see why our Haitian friends are extremely vulnerable to life-threatening illness and infectious diseases. These and other factors cause their life expectancy to be one of the lowest in the world at around 64 years (compare that to neighboring Dominican Republic at 74 years and the U.S at 78.5 years).
In most of the rural communities Overture serves, families are unable to access even the most basic healthcare due to lack of finances, transportation or access to services.
We share all of this to say, there is a great need to increase access to healthcare in Haiti, and that there is also a great opportunity to significantly improve the lives of individuals, families and communities we serve.
Given the extreme poverty in Haiti, deplorable living conditions exist throughout the rural communities. The rural areas we serve suffer from a lack of sanitation management, poor nutrition, exposure to extreme weather conditions and no access to healthcare, making residents especially susceptible to what are normally treatable medical conditions.
So, how is Overture addressing the need to increase access to healthcare?
Overture International is able to provide access to public health education, mental health counseling, and quality medical care through both our mobile clinics and our clinic at ESPWA. These efforts will enable us to equip communities to build and sustain healthcare programs that Prevent illnesses, Promote healthy lifestyles and Protect mental and physical health so those we serve can live longer, independent, and sustainable lives.
In all that we strive to do, our focus is on helping Haitians become independent and self-sustaining. This includes supporting local, Haitian healthcare providers. Additionally, we must encourage and educate communities to trust these providers and the care they offer. Like many issues in Haiti’s history, healthcare has been another area rife with governmental corruption and malfeasance.
Overture identifies trustworthy organizations and local providers and works to facilitate their ability to serve communities that lack access and the means for healthcare.
Three Components of an Effective Healthcare Program:
PREVENTION: Public Health Education
Education leads to prevention. Overture invests in building awareness, education and training opportunities for community members, leaders and families to help individuals identify when they or their family members have health problems and need to seek medical care. Unfortunately, even if Haitians have access to the clinics that do exist, they often can’t afford them.
Prevention is focused on a holistic view of health in that we train leaders and local authorities while facilitating resources that empower communities to live healthier, safer lives.
PROMOTION: Mental Health Counseling & Public Awareness
Overture invests in promoting healthy mental wellbeing to empower individuals to take responsibility over their own health and lives. Children and adults in Haiti are often exposed to crises as a result of political unrest, generational poverty and natural disasters and often suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, children are often the victims of physical violence from their own parents because of a lack of childcare education, and many children are separated from their families due to a lack of shelter and access to other basic needs. Mental health counseling helps individuals and families manage stress through education and the development of personal skills to build stronger and healthy families.
Overture also invests in raising awareness around basic best practices like hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, childcare and protection because awareness is critical in developing independent, sustainable communities. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding the benefits of and steps to practicing a healthier lifestyle.
PROTECTION: Medical Care
Protection zeros in on equipping communities with resources and services that expand their capacity to serve families.
Overture educates parents on how to become protectors of their children. This includes the basics like immunizations and regular checkups to the more complex issues like family planning. Our goal is to strengthen the Haitian healthcare system by empowering Haitian resources. We believe this is the only way for services to be sustainable within communities. So, it’s critical to implement and promote healthcare in Haiti using Haitians!
Overture partners with local providers and organizations to facilitate mobile medical clinics that provide much needed short-term and long-term medical care. This is a significant step toward filling the gap in a Haitian medical system that rarely reaches into the rural communities we serve. We are creating a more sustainable healthcare system in communities so that they have access to medical services for the long haul.
The clinic at ESPWA is a center for many of our healthcare initiatives.
Our partnerships with local healthcare providers keep our clinic at ESPWA operational two-days each week so that families in the local communities have access to ongoing healthcare. The clinic also serves as a center for treating critical cases identified during the mobile clinics or for individuals that need frequent follow up medical care.
Other activities at the ESPWA clinic include:
· Public health training to staff, parents, and children
· Individual and group counseling by social workers and psychologists
· Ongoing medical care for the local communities surrounding ESPWA
· Critical care for special cases
· Mobile clinics for the Ministry of Health so they can have a location from which to give children immunizations. (We also open it up to other special clinics or medical missions who need a temporary facility from which to operate.)
Our Mission In Action - Meet Patricio
At the beginning of November, Patricio, a young boy with disabilities, was abandoned by his mother. Out of desperation Patricio’s mom brought him to a Center known for caring for special needs in hopes that they would take him in because she could no longer provide the necessary resources to continue caring for his many needs. Unfortunately, the Center would not take him in, so his mother placed him on the ground outside of the Center in the public market and left. Patricio sat outside in the public market alone and abandoned and with nor food, water or sleep for two days!
The governmental authorities were notified, and they contacted Overture. We immediately removed Patricio from the market and took him to our ESPWA clinic, where he was seen by a doctor and a medical plan was put into place for him. According to the doctors at the clinic, Patricio suffers from multiple physical and mental disabilities, his feet are disformed, he cannot walk or speak, but he can hear and see.
As Patricio’s health was being stabilized, our team was at work identifying the next step in his journey. We determined that foster care was the best option instead of an institution and we began contacting people in the community who might be willing and able to take in Patricio, with all his challenges. We weren’t sure if we would be able to find the right family, but we were confident that God would guide our efforts. And, as most often occurs, we experienced a miracle, and her name is Maculé.
Maculé is a 41 year-old mother of four children and wife of a man who is disabled due to a vehicle accident. She also has experience caring for children with disabilities as she has cared for David, an abandoned child with disabilities who was on the brink of death until she took him into her care.
Thanks to her tender care, David is now in good health. And despite her limited income from her small business, Maculé didn’t hesitate to say “YES” when asked if she would consider taking in another abandoned child with disabilities. Maculé’s entire family has graciously accepted him into their home and have shown him the love of Christ.
The road ahead for Patricio, Maculé and the family is a long one. Taking care of Patricio will require Maculé’s full-time presence at home because he needs around-the-clock care including feeding, bathing, dressing and administering medicines.
This means her ability to earn income from her small business is extremely limited. Maculé will also need food, access to healthcare, hygiene products and medical supplies, counseling support for Patricio, and other support that will enable her to provide the absolute best care to Patricio, her other children and her paralyzed husband.
This family will be impacted by every program that makes up our proven Social Support Model.
That’s where our amazing network of Overture supporters step in. We are humbly asking for your prayers, encouragement and financial support to help us continue to expand our Social Support Model to equip Maculé, Patricio, their family and their community to care for each other. This includes extending our facilitation of critical healthcare services into our most vulnerable communities, including the one where Patricio, Maculé and their family lives.