Why we focus on infrastructure

Infrastructure in the Grande-Anse is limited at best.  On previous medical missions we have referred people to Port-au-Prince to get medical care that cannot be provided in the region.

Since the earthquake, Port-au-Prince no longer has the capacity to take most of our patients. There has also been a huge migration of people who have fled Port-au-Prince to return to their home villages.  This is adding significant additional pressure to the already stretched infrastructure in Jeremie, the Department capital.

We believe that if we build the capacity to provide care locally, we can improve our treatment programs and make it easier for our patients to get care.  This has the added benefit of reducing the cost of care as well. Improving the infrastructure will also help create jobs, enabling Haitians to find work that allows them to support their families and break the cycle of poverty.


Club Foot

Clubfoot is a congenital deformity that affects approximately one per 1,000 births. This deformity, if left untreated, it can result in a significant disability which impacts upon the individual’s ability to walk. Neglected clubfeet impose crushing physical, social, psychological and financial burdens on the individual, who is then condemned to the downward spiral of deformity, disability, dependency, demoralization, depression, and despair. Worldwide, neglected clubfeet are the most serious cause of physical disability from musculo-skeletal birth defects.

Children with physical disabilities are quite often socially and economically disadvantaged.  Educational opportunities are reduced through selection bias and because of transportation difficulties.  Employment opportunities are reduced for similar reasons.  In addition, mothers of children with physical disabilities have to spend more time looking after them and therefore have less time for their other children or for domestic, agricultural or economic activities.  This can result in a reduced standard of living for the entire family.

There are three major reasons why clubfoot often goes untreated in Haiti. 1. The clubfoot deformity is not recognized at birth: Many birth attendants, particularly in rural areas, are unaware of the clubfoot deformity and the need for early treatment. 2. When recognized, there is no treatment available: Even when identified, the absence of trained orthopaedic or general surgeons in many of the parts of Haiti can result in treatment being unavailable.  3. Inadequate treatment: Many orthopaedic officers and other primary care physicians have not had an opportunity to upgrade their skills over the years in the management of the clubfoot deformity.

Health and Education for Haiti began our club foot program to build the capacity to treat this condition in the Grande-Anse.  We had been sending all of our club foot patients to Port-au-Prince for treatment.  The patient and their family were required to endure the 12-hour one way trip every two weeks to get the treatment required.  Our goal is to enable the treatment close to our patients so they don’t have to travel extensively.  Also, we are training the nurses and midwives in the region to identify club foot at birth, so treatment can begin immediately.
Our program has become more important since the devestating earthquake hit Haiti.  Our main provider in Port-au-Prince was severely affected, and does not know when they can provide care again.  We also don’t want to send our patients into Port-au-Prince as it will cause additional stress on the infrastructure there.


Water Sanitation

Lack of clean water and sanitation services is one of the major root causes of disease and death in underdeveloped nations. Many villages use untreated water, and lack disease-preventing sanitation practices.

Health and Education for Haiti is committed to motivating communities around water and sanitation issues.  We are educating community members, seeking to nurture and utilize a grassroots community movement around water initiatives–all the while increasing access to stored water and treatment.

We have built clean water cisterns and also provided filtration systems in some of our areas.  There are two types of filtration systems we supply: a small ceramic filter suitable for family use and larger bio-sand filters that are for communities.  We get our filtration systems and training from Pure Water for the World.