Tag Archives: Caribbean

Cervical Cancer: Haitian Women’s Next Biggest Killer

By Dr. Leslee Jaeger

Mother and Child. HaitiRoseline had delivered her baby during the chaos of our first day at Mama Baby Haiti, a birthing center for women near CapHaitian, Haiti. Mondays are the busiest day at the center, located on a dirt road just off Highway 1, as it is the intake day for expectant mothers that are new to the program. Three of us had arrived the night before from the early spring of Minnesota weather to be greeted by unseasonable warm Haitian weather – 95 degrees and high humidity.

While we were teaching 10 Haitian nurses and physicians asked about cervical cancer screening in a low resource setting and Roseline was laboring with the aide of a Haitian trained nurse midwife to deliver her healthy baby girl. She graciously agreed to be interviewed only hours after the birth of her child and shortly before she was to depart for her home (patients stay at the center for only 4 hours after an uncomplicated birth).

As is true for many of the 30-40 women who deliver at Mama Baby Haiti each month, she had heard of the program through a friend. She lives 20 minutes away and had been seen for five prenatal visits. She was appreciative of the nurse midwives that seemed to listen to her concerns and the cleanliness of the birthing center. This was Roseline’s first child. The father of her baby was sick and unable to work and she supported herself with side jobs and help from her family. The cost of her care at the center was much reduced from what her care would have cost at the local hospital. Without the services of Mama Baby Haiti, she would have had to deliver at home, either by herself or with an unskilled birth attendant.

Continue reading Cervical Cancer: Haitian Women’s Next Biggest Killer

News on Haiti’s Current Reconstruction Achievements, Setbacks

Nearly three years after the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010 and killed over 300,000 people there are significant signs of improvements in the reconstruction of the world’s poorest country despite subsequent natural disasters after the quake, notably hurricanes Issac and Sandy. However, when you read and hear multiple accounts from the ground progress is slow-going and there is still much work to be done.

“The US and the UN have been working side-by-side with the Haitian community and the government to rebuild that country, and while there is still a lot of work to do, there is also good news,” said United Nations Foundation CEO, Kathy Calvin on a conference call yesterday. “The UN has been on the scene in Haiti since long before the earthquake and it continues to address the needs of their people helping to rebuild and transform their country.”

According to key statistics laid out by the United Nations Foundation 80% of all debris generated from the earthquake has been removed by the Haitian people and Haitian government, as well as by the United Nations and other organizations. 158,000 people have been moved into new housing, nearly 3 million children under age 10 have been vaccinated against polio, measles and rubella, and 470,000 temporary jobs have been created, of which 40% have gone to women.

Despite these improvements, over 300,000 people remain displaced and still live in nearly 500 squalid tent cities where cholera, poor sanitation, and rife poverty remain rampant. According to the International Organization for Migration 84% of tent city dwellers have been living in temporary housing since the earthquake hit three years ago.

“There are 358,000 people living in really sordid camps now,” said Amy Wilentz,  longtime journalist on Haiti and author of ‘Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti’, in a January 10 NPR interview with Michel Martin. “It’s a little more than the estimate of people killed in the earthquake.”

Since a cholera outbreak hit the tiny island country shortly after the earthquake, nearly 8,000 people have died and over half a million people have been sickened. To respond to the cholera problem, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is focusing on the quality of water and sanitation in order to stop the transmission of the infectious disease across the island. Additional reconstructive efforts such as the improved rebuilding of structures, particularly hospitals, are being overlooked by PAHO as well as continued vaccination programs.

As it stands now reconstruction efforts continue to progress and centralized, coordinated efforts appear to be the next step to progressive action in order to avoid overlaps in development and also to give more power and leadership to the Haitian government.

“As we see progress we also see the long-tern challenges that the country has,” said Jessica FaietaDeputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UN Development Programme (UNDP) on a conference call. “Now we are looking to the longer term engagement of the donors and the continued engagement of UN partners and the international community.”

Common to all reconstruction efforts it will take time to remedy all of the earthquake damage and its residual effects, but there is optimism in the midst of a barrage of  critics.

“The progress in the last three years has been enormous,” Faieta said.

Photo: The Haitian Government and international agencies are ramping up efforts to relocate people still living in camps across Haiti as a result of the January 2010 earthquake. UN Photo/Logan Abassi


UNAIDS Releases New Global HIV/AIDS Report

Annemarie Hou, Director of Communications at the Joint UN Programme on AIDS and HIV (UNAIDS), speaks at a press conference in Geneva launching a new Results Report on HIV. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

World AIDS Day is quickly approaching on December 1 where the global community comes together to remember those who have succumbed to HIV/AIDS and also push for an AIDS-free generation. Last week UNAIDS released their new global report on the HIV/AIDS (download: PDF) that showed significant movement in the reduction in new HIV cases. New cases were down to 2.5 million in 2011 from 3.2 million in 2001. The report also highlighted that more people are living with HIV and have access to antiretroviral therapy, currently a 63% increase from 2009- 2011.

“The pace of progress is quickening—what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before. It is the proof that with political will and follow through we can reach our shared goals by 2015.”

UNAIDS Launches Results Report ahead of World Day
Michel Sidibé (centre), Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on AIDS and HIV (UNAIDS), with Bernhard Schwartländer (left), Director for Evidence, Strategy and Results at UNAIDS, and Annemarie Hou (right), UNAIDS’ Director of Communications, holds up the organization’s new Results Report on HIV, launched during a press conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the report
sub-Saharan Africa still claims the highest number of HIV positive people followed by the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In fact, women account for 58% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Optimistically, the overall rate of  HIV infections has been reduced 50% since 2001. The greatest reduction is being seen currently with newborns. According to the report in 2011, new infections in children were 43% lower than in 2003 and 24% lower than 2009.

More Work to Do

While key HIV/AIDS statistics are improving there is space for better results. The overall number of new HIV cases need to be drastically reduced and more people need access to antiretroviral drugs. An estimated seven million people still need access to life-saving drugs . There is also a funding gap that will prohibit marked improvements unless more money is pledged by both poor and middle-income countries and the international contributions are sustained or increased.

Read more at www.unaids.org

Source: UNAIDS Global Fact Sheet

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Heavy rains in Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haïtien flooded streets, homes and fields overnight on 9 November, leaving hundreds homeless and up to fifteen people dead. A girl walks through the flooded streets of her neighbourhood. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Hurricane Sandy left infrastructural damage and flooding in many areas of Haiti. Tent cities have been a mainstay in Haiti since the devastating earthquake nearly three years ago, sanitation is hit and miss, and dirty standing water and raw sewage pose perpetual problems throughout the tiny island nation.

According to the Associated Press, “the International Organization for Migration says Haitian officials have confirmed 3,593 cholera cases and another 837 suspected cases since Hurricane Sandy’s passage.”

NGOs and doctors are giving out cholera kits and are asking Haitians to spread the word about how to avoid getting cholera, but with a lack of clean drinking water more people are bound to be sickened by or die because of cholera. And despite these valiant efforts the waterborne disease continues to take the lives of the very young and old primarily.