Improving access to essential medicines in rural Haiti

Courtesy of Plan
Courtesy of Plan

Blog post by Plan International of Canada

Medicines save lives but in rural communities access to medicine is a significant barrier to receiving adequate treatment. Existing health facilities often experience a shortage of essential medicines and equipment needed to respond appropriately, especially to reproductive health needs. This leaves adolescent girls and children in a precarious and vulnerable position.

According to UNICEF, Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Americas. In North-East Haiti, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a major cause of death for adolescent girls – approximately 18% of them are mothers.

In response to the poor access to essential medicines, Plan International has partnered with Health Partners International of Canada* (HPIC) to arrange donations of essential, life-saving medicines to Haiti. With the support from HPIC and their generous donors, Plan International will be able to provide antibiotics to treat infections that women or young children can contract and oxytocin, an essential medicine used to prevent post-partum hemorrhage, which is among the leading causes of maternal death.

In Haiti, Plan International Canada will also work with Plan International Haiti, the local government and NGO partners to implement a multidimensional project. It will target the most marginalized and vulnerable women, adolescent girls and their children in hopes to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

Working to improve quality of care 

Health facilities in North-East Haiti face a number of challenges. There can be a lack of space, often times, the staff are tired and overworked, and patients are not always received in a friendly environment. Additionally, many of the facilities lack essential medical equipment and supplies needed to provide quality health services.

Plan International will focus its work on improving the quality of care that is provided to patients by making medicines and equipment available. And by working with health providers to reinforce their capacities to provide services that are adolescent friendly and that are responsive to the unique health needs of women and girls.

Hope for the future

“For having participated in many meetings, I believe that this project will be useful to the community…” -Mimose Alfred. (Fort-Liberté health center staff)

Although this project is only in its beginning stages, people at the health facilities are optimistic about the changes that Plan International and its partners can bring to the area. They believe the project will encourage community members to return to the hospitals.

Together, we are working to make sure that everyone and especially girls, women and children can exercise their rights to access quality health services without discrimination.

Our generous partners

The work we are doing would not be possible without our partners in Canada, namely HPIC and pharmaceutical donor companies including AstraZeneca Canada, BD, Fresenius-Kabi, Henry Schein, Hospira, Johnson & Johnson Inc., Pfizer Canada Inc., Pfizer Consumer, Pharmascience Inc., Teligent, and Teva Canada Limited, as well as government partners, and our local partners in the very communities we work with.

*Health Partners International of Canada is an independent Canadian charity dedicated to increasing access to medicine and improving health in the most vulnerable communities. HPIC works with Canada’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industry to treat about 1 million people in 50 countries every year through a well-established network of Canadian volunteers and global partners. HPIC equips medical mission teams, stocks clinics and hospitals in impoverished communities, mobilizes medical relief during emergencies and builds local capacity.

Help #ChangeTheBirthStory

Plan International Canada in partnership with the Government of Canada is supporting women, men, girls and boys to change the birth story in many remote communities across Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi and Bangladesh.