“…we are also resilient, creative and relentless faced with overwhelming challenges…” Dr. Rouzier
Since my over 23 years involvement with Haiti, I have witnessed more disasters, both manmade and natural. I could not have imagined when I began this journey all that I have seen. I was in Haiti when President Aristide was deposed and lived through the subsequent upheaval. The political years of repression, the earthquake in 2010, the hurricane Matthew in October of 2016, the disruption of peaceful existence in the Grand’Anse when Guy Philippe was arrested due to drug trafficking, then the ever increasing inflation and more people falling into poverty, if that is even possible, and now no legitimate government, and the new menace, Covid 19. Truly overwhelming challenges, but Haitians will again face these challenges, but not without pain.
My friend Dr. Rick Frechette, a priest and doctor, reported from his hospital that they received 850 people with symptoms of Corona virus. They cannot test them all, but the Ministry of Health recently stated that the virus is so prevalent that it is not even necessary to test all the cases.
Nearly 400 of the 850 patients have had moderate symptoms and they were able to be sent home with some medicines to help with their symptoms, instructions on self-isolation, and the invitation to return if they worsened.
The remaining 450 people were sick enough to need admission to our hospital. Of these, 125 developed catastrophic illness and died.
Of the remaining 325 people, about 37 left against medical advice (usually to seek traditional spiritual treatments), 25 were referred to centers that offer mechanical ventilation, about 80 are still in the hospital, and about 183 went home with good recovery.
Stigmatization of people with Covid 19 impedes care. Rumors posted on social media that Covid 19 is a government ruse to seek international funding, Covis 19 is transmitted by contaminated testing swabs, and hospitals are using patients with Covid 19 for vaccine experiments. Hospitals with Covid 19 patients have been physically attacked. Health care workers have been threatened and MSSP mobile-testing teams stoned. Grassroots community engagement is essential to gain public trust and combat stigma.
Haitian Connection has engaged in this effort by holding a number of information sessions on Covid 19 and efforts to mitigate it. We have a number of groups engaged in mask production and have held several food distributions to alleviate real hunger. We will continue these efforts as we can. We will not be discouraged; we stand in solidarity with our Haitians friends and colleagues.