Importance of Public Health
Updated: Feb 22
Public Health is our first strategy to Healthcare
Overture believes that education is the key to improving the long-term health of Haitians and helping them build independence and sustainability in the healthcare system. Proper prenatal care, nutrition for children and adolescents, and understanding proper hygiene and sanitation practices are all topics that many of us take for granted, but in Haiti there is still a significant gap in the understanding and adoption of best practices in these areas.
Our approach to healthcare focuses on prevention, promotion and protection.
Public Health Education
Overture works to bring awareness and training to community members, leaders and families. We provide education to help individuals identify when they have health problems and need to seek medical care. Ultimately, prevention IS education because even if Haitians have access to the many clinics that exist, they often can’t afford them.
Prevention is focused on more of a global view in that we train leaders and local authorities while facilitating resources that empower communities to live healthier, safer lives.
Mental Health Counseling & Public Awareness
Overture also focuses on promoting healthy mental wellbeing to empower individuals to take responsibility over their own health. Children and adults that are exposed to crisis as a result of political unrest, generational poverty and natural disasters often suffer from depression and posttraumatic 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 other daily basic needs.
Mental health counseling help individuals and families manage their stress through education and the development of personal skills to build stronger and healthy families.
Overture also focuses on raising awareness around basic best practices like hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, childcare and protection because awareness is critical in developing independent, sustainable communities.
Protection zeros in on equipping communities with resources and services that expand their capacity to serve families.
Overture is educating parents on how to become protectors of their own children. This includes everything from 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 sustaining 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 the Haitian medical system that rarely reaches into the rural communities we serve. We are working to create 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 a week so that families in the local communities have access to ongoing healthcare. The clinic also serves as a center for 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.)
Your continued support makes it possible for Overture International to equip and empower communities to build up their healthcare infrastructure in a way that is independent of foreign support and sustainable for generations to come.
Read an a real-life example that demonstrates the importance for all components of our Healthcare program:
Tragically, on January 29th of this year, in the community of Madame Combe (in Les Cayes where ESPWA resides), an oil lamp exploded in the home of the Simon family. There were seven children from two different families, between the ages of seven and 20, in the home at the time of the explosion, all of whom are students at our ESPWA schools. Only one child escaped the fire without being burned. The oldest boy was critically burned.
Because the emergency services in this community are extremely lacking, the children did not receive immediate medical attention. It took approximately 48 hours from the time of the accident for the children to receive hospital care. Our team hit the ground running as soon as we were made aware of the situation. Although we did not provide direct medical services, Overture’s role was essential in ensuring each child received the appropriate medical attention relative to their degree of burns.
As you can imagine, the severity of the burns required a high level of care. As a result, we called on numerous community partners (including the government and NGOs) and utilized all available resources, including fulfilling financial commitments on the frontend before the hospitals would accept the children as patients. Thanks to the fervent coordination facilitated by Overture and ESPWA, the children were able to benefit from medical services in four different hospitals spanning three geographic departments of Haiti.
On March 4th, four of the children with less severe burns were released from Bonne Fin Hospital and returned to the care of their family. Just recently, the oldest and most severe burn case, was transferred from Mirebalais Hospital to Bonne Fin Hospital because his condition had improved to a point where his wounds could now be managed at a hospital closer to his family and community. Sadly, one of the children, age 13, did not survive the burns and passed shortly after being transported to a hospital in Port au Prince.
Our team has and will continue to follow up with these families to ensure the children are receiving the proper care and nutrition they need for full recoveries. We’ve hired nurses to support these families with medical follow-up and our social workers are providing psychological support to the children and their parents around the trauma they’ve incurred. Our support will continue for an undetermined length of time.
In summary, this case demonstrates how our focus on public health can help to prevent future medical crises due to lack of education as well as protect and aid families with medical needs through coordination of available resources.
Although our training didn’t take place until after the accident occurred, we’ve now educated both the parents and the children on the potential dangers associated with gasoline, preventing future accidents. This is an example of our prevention component.
Leveraging our local partnerships while linking these families to available community resources is an example of our promotion component.
And the continued medical and psychological attention our team is providing to these families is an example of our protection component.