Home > Our World > News > News - Recent Headlines
Community workers improve health in Haiti

 
Nurse Renette Olivier leads training for community health workers at Darbonne, Haiti. UMNS photos by John Gordon.

By John Gordon*
April 21, 2009 | DARBONNE, Haiti


Marie Chrewle, 28, and her grandmother, Ana Altidort, 68, say finding health care is difficult in rural Haiti.

Finding medical care in rural Haiti is not as simple as loading up the minivan and driving to a neighborhood clinic.              

Miles of bad roads or treacherous mountain paths often separate residents from clinics and hospitals. The nearest facility can be a 10-hour walk away.

But with the help of U.S.-based Global Health Action, in partnership with The United Methodist Church, community workers are being trained to meet the country’s urgent health-care needs.

“The good news is that properly-trained local community health workers can prevent or treat 80 percent of the illnesses or diseases in their own communities without additional medical care,” says Robin Davis, executive director of Global Health Action, located near Atlanta.

More than 1,200 health workers have been trained in Haiti since the program began in 1982. Each provides year-round health care to about 100 families, or between 700 and 800 children and adults.

Last year, 12 health care workers were trained and continuing education was provided for 101 others. Program workers hope to train 25 new health care workers this year.

But the workers strain to keep up with the health-care needs in the Haitian countryside.

“Too many people need help.  I can’t help all of them,” says Marie Carmel Jalouis, a community health worker who lives near Darbonne.

Life in a shanty

Jalouis’ neighbors include a grandmother, her daughter and infant child and other relatives.


Haiti’s bad roads make it difficult to travel
to distant hospitals and clinics.
 

The shanty where they live has no electricity or running water as they struggle to survive in the Caribbean country, where three out of four people live on less than $2 a day.

“I have nothing, nothing,” says Marie Chrewle, 28. “Sometimes, I wash clothes for somebody and then they give me some little thing to help my child.”

Each Haitian community health worker attends eight weeks of classes and follow-up courses and receives a health bag filled with supplies and medicine. 

The cost for training each worker is $1,850. Global Health Action receives financial support as a United Methodist mission project and from United Methodist Women. United Methodist Women is administered by the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

“Education is the most important in the activities that they do for the community,” says Renette Olivier, a nurse, instructor and coordinator for the program. 

“They talk to the moms, they advise them how to treat the children when they have diarrhea,” says Olivier. “They talk to the people about malaria, too.”

Emphasis on results

Besides preventing and treating diseases, health workers focus on nutrition, immunizations, safe drinking water and sanitation.


Franck Toussaint heads a program that provides purebred goats that can change the lives of Haitian families.

The emphasis on nutrition is showing results, Davis says.

The rate and severity of malnutrition in children under 5 years of age has dropped significantly in areas where there is a concentration of practicing community health workers,” she says.

Global Health Action also sponsors the Haitian Goat Project. Local farmers who attend a training course receive a pregnant goat mated with the project’s purebred stock.

“The two projects work closely because we have a problem of the malnourished people,” explains Franck Toussaint, training coordinator. 

The better breed of goats, Toussaint says, means more money for Haitian families to send their children to school and improve their homes.

“In the past, we can sell a goat for 250 Haitian dollars and now we can sell one for 1,000 Haitian dollars. That changes a life,” he says.

Jalouis, a health worker for 19 years, says the difficult job has its rewards.

“I find my pleasure in this way,” she says. “This kind of thing is very, very important for the children and the community.”

The Advance info on Haiti community health workers program and goat project 

*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer based in Marshall, Texas.

News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Video

Haiti Health Workers

Related Video

Better Health for Haiti

Haiti’s Midwives

Meals Help Haiti

Million Meals for Hungry

Related Articles

UMCOR assists storm-ravaged people in Haiti

Stop Hunger Now marks 10th with million meal event

UMCOR trains farmers to expand food supply

Resources

UMCOR

United Methodist Church Advance Project

Global Health Action

Stop Hunger Now

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW

Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.