When I arrived on Monday, December 5th, it was my twelfth trip to Haiti. As C2C’s Director of Operations, I first came to Haiti just sixty days after the devastating January 2010 earthquake to work in partnership with AmeriCares to develop clinic sites in a country whose health system had reverted to chaos. C2C entered Haiti with one objective: to work in partnership with local institutions and to support their recovery efforts by providing focused, integrated maternal and child health services for Haiti’s most vulnerable people.
In March 2010, the Port-au-Prince airport was still in disarray: one runway was functional and visitors and aid workers entered the country through a temporary warehouse which functioned as both immigration center and logistics ground-zero. I was reminded of that first trip on Monday when I was processed swiftly and efficiently through immigration. The customs official welcomed me warmly to Haiti and I was handed a tourism brochure. What a difference nearly two years can make.
These days, we travel to the C2C clinic and partner sites on roads that are reasonably cleared of rubble. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in IDP camps; the traffic is still congested beyond description; and Haitian people still struggle to meet their basic needs. But things have changed – not fast enough, but for the better. The influx of relief and aid organizations has thinned and streamlined its collective efforts.
Despite hurricanes, cholera outbreaks, periods of civil unrest, and pharmaceutical shortages, the C2C clinic continues to do what it set out to do over a year ago: to provide women with high-quality health services. Over 9,000 women have been treated at the C2C clinic. Drs. Roche and Justin, physicians on-site daily at the C2C clinic, provide comprehensive pre-natal care to pregnant women. Our nurses triage patients upon arrival at the clinic and manage medical records, tracking the progress of each woman’s pregnancy. On average day at the C2C maternal health clinic, 40 women receive urgently needed care – a testament to our partner, Grace Children’s Hospital, whose staff has worked tirelessly to rebuild a 40-year old local health institution.
In 2012, C2C will integrate two programming additions to our service delivery: community health education and ultrasound technology. Health education services will focus on preventive care on important topics like: healthy pre-natal and post-natal practices, proper breastfeeding and infant care techniques, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and sanitation and hygiene. By introducing ultrasound technology, our pre-natal patients will be better served by identifying dangerous obstetric complications early and identifying solutions to ensure safe delivery.
C2C is working to grow its clinic presence in Haiti and to expand our ability to more reach women and children, to help keep families healthy, and to support local institutions to grow their capacity to serve patients in the year ahead.