Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 29, 2010—As the countdown to the rainy season in Haiti gathers momentum, humanitarian agency World Vision is warning that children may miss out on access to medical care when they need it the most.
With children already vulnerable through crowded, filthy conditions, exposure and lack of nutritious food, the rain will further heighten health risks, including malaria and dengue fever, diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.
“When it comes to healthcare, the emergency is most definitely not over,” said Claire Beck, World Vision’s Response Health Manager in Port-au-Prince.
“The children in Haiti were facing a chronic health emergency even before the quake. This massive disaster has created even greater challenges. Now the rains will bring more unsanitary conditions, more mosquitoes, more fevers for children. I’m extremely concerned.”
To save lives, World Vision is calling on the Haitian government to extend its waiver on public clinic and hospital fees past the initially agreed three month period. The spike in illness caused by the rains is expected to occur around the time the waiver expires on April 12.
“It’s an expense displaced communities are just not in a place to afford right now,” Beck said.
Efforts to clear drains and other flood reduction projects are also a race against time. A major concern if new camp communities flood is the movement of garbage and human waste through the shelters. World Vision is working to improve drainage, toilets, water supply and garbage disposal in the 17 camps where it works, but with more than 420 new settlements throughout Port-au-Prince, flood risk reduction must be delivered on a broader scale.
World Vision’s child health response in Port-au-Prince includes five mobile health teams providing primary care and a variety of community education and public health initiatives. Many food distributions target women to ensure mothers have a say in how the food is used. Private tents create safe places for mothers to breastfeed or meet to share knowledge on childcare. In addition, medical supplies and equipment are being supplied to 11 hospitals, and clean birthing kits are being distributed in the camps for the many women who are not able to deliver in the relative safety of a hospital.
World Vision has been working in Haiti for more than 30 years. After the earthquake, the aid agency immediately found ways to provide access to basic medical care and adequate nutrition for infants, children, and pregnant women. As we partner in the rebuilding of Haiti, a strong, equitable government healthcare system will be one of our priority goals.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.