Working toward the right to healthcare in Haiti
By Tynisa Harvey**
It’s only been two days in Haiti, and already I feel like the people here are my own. On our way to our home visits, we were greeted with smiles and friendly ‘Bonjours’ from natives, young and old. It is refreshing to be in a place where you greet people that don’t respond with a blank stare or a silent nod. I took full advantage of this, and it may sound cheesy, but I said ‘Bonjour’ to EVERYONE I met, literally! Besides I really wanted to practice my creole.
Our first visit took us to a modest little house on a hill, and shouts of ‘honour’ were met with ‘respet’. I came to understand that this was the customary way of entering someone’s home, so your call followed by their response meant you were welcome in their home. Although we made several home visits, there was one that left a lasting impression. We met a woman that may have been about 25 years old, and she was nine months pregnant. She was dressed in a very pretty blue and white floral dress, and sat on a hand woven wooden stool. She appeared well, but went on to tell us she was very weak and that she had anemia. She had received a blood transfusion recently and was being closely monitored by her health agent.
Medishare has set up a health care system in which 85 health agents are assigned to one thousand people. This method not only ensures that every person has an opportunity for medical care, but also that those who receive care are closely monitored and managed. We checked her vital signs, pulmonary and cardiac function to make sure she was healthy by those parameters, and then communicated our findings to the health agent. Our job was done and it was on to the next patient. This was an important experience for me because I felt good knowing that she was getting the care that she needed especially since she was pregnant.
Project Medishare is responsible for making health care a right and not a privilege in countries such as Haiti, and is to be highly commended for its humanitarian efforts.
I look forward to the days that are ahead. Over the next few days we will open our mobile clinic and hope to see people turn out in their numbers. I am proud, and at the same time, humbled by this entire experience and can’t wait to help this movement continue to change lives, and the world at large.
**University of Miami Miller School of Medicine students and doctors visited Haiti between December 20-24. The group worked with Project Medishare’s Haitian medical staff in Thomonde and the surrounding Central Plateau.