Category Archives: Uncategorized

Solar Fridges at C2C Clinics Make Vaccines More Accessible

While the global COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also been a stark reminder of just how important vaccines are. Preventative medicine, like vaccines, is critical for healthy communities, but often we take these life-saving innovations for granted. 

Ensuring that routine vaccination is maintained or reinitiated during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations, and further strain the healthcare system.

Typically, in the US and other developed countries, vaccines are easy to access and often even required; however, in places like Haiti, getting vaccinated is not a simple task. 

In Covid times, it is especially important for children’s health to be safeguarded by adhering to the recommended vaccination schedule 


In Haiti, even if there is an adequate supply of vaccines, logistics can often present major obstacles to distribution, especially refrigeration options for transporting and storing the vaccines (known as cold chain). The ideal temperature for vaccine storage is between 35°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C) at all times. A 2018 article from New York Magazine further highlights this issue: “long distances, poor roads, hot weather, and unreliable electricity […] make deployment even more difficult.” Indeed, getting vaccines where they need to be is extremely challenging in a country with a high disease burden, and with 50 children dying per day due to vaccine-preventable illness, this has had severe consequences.

Exacerbating the issue is the fuel required to transport vaccines. In 2019, Haiti faced waves of political unrest and violence due to a countrywide fuel shortage. The crisis, sparked by low fuel supply, low cash reserves, and high debt, affected nearly every person across the country. Road blockades and demonstrations made travel dangerous if not impossible; even many schools and hospitals were forced to close for weeks at a time.

A nurse retrieves a vaccine from a solar fridge at our Bayeux clinic

Luckily, with sunshine 90 percent of the time, Haiti is ripe for solar energy. The Ministry of Health is committed to increasing vaccination rates and is working on installing solar refrigerators in all public clinics. C2C currently has solar panel fridges at our clinics in Sinek, Bayeux, Savanette, and Roche Plate. Through a partnership with a solar company in Port-au-Prince (contracted by UNICEF), we will be installing a new solar-powered fridge at our Cap-Haitien clinic this month. Before we had solar energy, our fridges ran on propane tanks 24/7 and we needed to make sure that we kept a reserve tank in case one ran out. This was both costly and inefficient. Our new solar fridges are more cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and easier for staff to use and maintain. This option is also more reliable than fuel, especially due to the increase in insecurity and lack of propane at certain times of the year. With solar fridges, C2C is able to provide life-saving routine vaccinations to children and families under our one-stop-shop model regardless of the state of Haiti’s fuel supply, infrastructure, or political climate. 

This entry was posted on by Amanda Fata.

Malnutrition and COVID-19: Food insecurity is on the rise in Haiti

Dear Friends of C2C,

Global hunger has increased over the past five years, and because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, an additional 83 to 132 million people around the world are expected to plunge deeper into food insecurity by the end of the year. 

Food insecurity has grown worse in Haiti in the past year due to many factors, some of which include the closure of the border with the Dominican Republic, persistent inflation, the continued depreciation of the local currency, a rise in unemployment, and the effects of COVID-19.

Here at C2C, we currently operate a malnutrition program at our Acul du Nord clinic site. The program started four years ago to treat moderate and severe malnutrition in children between 6 months of age to 5 years old. Since its launch, we have treated over 350 children. However, with the magnitude of difficulties that are on the rise in Haiti, there is a higher prevalence of malnutrition in rural areas.

All across our clinics, we are seeing more and more malnourished children. The population that is most vulnerable to malnutrition come from lower-income households. These families have a hard time meeting the nutritional needs of their children, in terms of quality and quantity, which causes acute or chronic malnutrition. The majority of the children enrolled in C2C’s malnutrition program come from single mother-led families. Many of the mothers are unemployed and hope for financial support from the fathers. Some work in local markets selling diverse goods in an effort to sustain their families. To make matters worse, due to the devaluation of the local currency (gourde), basic staples such as rice, oil, beans, fruits, and vegetables are rapidly becoming more expensive. Just a year ago, 77 gourdes was equivalent to one US dollar. Now, one US dollar is worth 122 gourdes and is steadily increasing, which negatively impacts families that are getting less for their money. Children are eating fewer portions or being fed less healthy food that happens to be more affordable but without any nutritional value to reach satiety. 

The increase in unemployment in Haiti has also been directly affected by COVID-19. While populations worldwide have suffered a plunge in the global economy, every household has certainly felt the effects of COVID-19 in Haiti, which is already the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The border to the Dominican Republic has been closed since March, reducing trade between the two countries, while the lack of tourism has affected tens of thousands of people. Due to the decrease in demand for services in Haiti, many businesses have been forced to lay off employees which also increases malnutrition cases due to less income generated per capita.

In addition to the increasing insecurity, inflation, and unemployment, many families worry about providing for their own as the government does not provide reliable electricity and the majority of households do not have refrigerators to store food. This means that they cannot buy in bulk and resort to buying food every day, which isn’t always a possibility when COVID-19 safety measures make it difficult to move around.

The World Food Programme estimates that the number of people in severe food insecurity in Haiti could rise from 700,000 to 1.6 million. With hurricane season in the Caribbean from June to November, there is an additional risk for which Haitian families need to prepare.

C2C plans to expand its malnutrition program and services to all of our rural clinics to reduce the burden on the communities that are facing severe food insecurity and are unable to meet their basic food needs, especially for their children.

Stay tuned to hear more updates about the expansion of the malnutrition program, our COVID-19 efforts in our clinics, and more! 

This entry was posted on by Racha Yehia.

Latest COVID-19 Update from Haiti from our Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Samuel Bernard

On March 20th, 2020, Haiti recorded its first confirmed case of coronavirus. As of July 29, Haiti has recorded 7,371 official cases and 158 deaths, although because the country has not been doing sufficient testing, the actual figures are likely much higher. Unfortunately, Haiti’s Ministry of Health lacks the resources to adequately respond to the virus. A 2017 report from the World Bank found that the government spends just $13 per capita annually on health services, much lower than neighboring countries such as the Dominican Republic ($180 dollars) and Cuba ($781 dollars) and the Latin American and Caribbean region as a whole, which has a per capita public expenditure of $336 dollars. Of the few funds allocated to the health system, 54% of the government’s expenditure is allocated to curative care (38% to hospitals) with only 19% directed towards preventive care.

Needless to say, the Haitian government was ill-prepared to take on the COVID-19 pandemic. As wealthy, developed countries such as the US have struggled to contain the spread, COVID-19 has also resulted in a health and economic crisis in Haiti. As C2C is the primary partner of the Ministry of Health in the north of Haiti, health officials have relied greatly on our organization to slow the spread of the virus, mainly through community education activities.

“For us, the main way to deal with the pandemic in Haiti is prevention,” says C2C’s Chief Operating Officer Dr. Samuel Bernard. At first, our staff found it challenging to convince people to follow best practices for virus mitigation. “People didn’t want to hear about [the virus] because they didn’t trust that it was real,” reflects Dr. Bernard. “Asking patients to wear masks, washing their hands before entering our clinics was a fight. But, by providing education many times a day in the clinics [and the communities], our patients finally understood that they should follow the protocol to avoid being infected.”

We are collaborating closely with the Ministry of Health on education activities, keeping people updated on the state of the epidemic in Haiti and how they can protect themselves and their families. Although the government has not been able to provide much support for these activities, C2C is grateful to our generous supporters for allowing us to continue our COVID-19 response.

At the onset of COVID-19 in Haiti, C2C set critical overarching goals, objectives, and activities for our clinic network and have continued to adjust our plans and priorities as the crisis continues to evolve.

Goals:

  1. Mitigate the spread of the coronavirus infection in our region of Northern Haiti
  2. Treat any patient suspected of having coronavirus
  3. Educate the communities we serve in virus mitigation best practices

Short-term Objectives:

  1. Prepare and train staff to provide education to our communities on coronavirus
  2. Secure equipment needed to face an epidemic
  3. Enhance the capacity of the clinics to quickly identify any suspected case of coronavirus
  4. Enhance the capacity of the clinics to care for any possible case of coronavirus infection

Sample of Clinical and Community Activities:

  1. Training of staff on COVID-19 and means of prevention: prepare and disseminate training materials about COVID-19 to give to staff; supervising doctor ensures that all clinical staff are trained properly
  2. Provide, improve, and resupply hand washing stations at each clinic and encourage increased handwashing among patients and staff
  3. Radio and TV announcements weekly from C2C medical staff; hire a local “mobile” (a pick-up truck with large speakers in the bed) to drive through communities and broadcast the Haiti Ministry of Health’s taped message on COVID-19 prevention
  4. Clinicians provide up-to-date information on COVID-19 during regular patient consultations; nurses hold education sessions in waiting room of clinics to inform patients how to protect themselves and their families
  5. Increase collaboration with peer organizations and the Ministry of Health to scale communications, education materials, outreach, and training

To learn more about C2C’s COVID-19 response in Haiti, visit our official COVID-19 updates page on our website.

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

C2C Earns a “Give with Confidence” 100/100 Rating From Charity Navigator!

Dear Friends,

We’re excited to share some news! C2C has been evaluated by Charity Navigator through their revolutionary Encompass Rating System and received a 100 out of 100 rating!

The Encompass Rating System is a comprehensive evaluation tool that analyzes nonprofit performance based on four key indicators. In July 2020, Charity Navigator released the first indicator, Finance & Accountability, to highlight nonprofit organizations demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

This milestone achievement for C2C couldn’t have happened without you and your support. Thank you for being part of our family as contributors, funders, and fervent advocates. Your trust in us is what makes the difference to us and the communities we serve.

You can find our Charity Navigator Encompass rating here: https://charitynavigator.org/ein/264369180 and learn more about Charity Navigator and the Encompass Rating System at charitynavigator.org/encompass.

Thank you for being an integral part of our mission!

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

COVID-19 June 2020 Update from Haiti


Until recently Haiti seemed to be fortunate regarding COVID-19, with reported numbers barely registering on the global radar screen.  We are now however beginning to see the kind of spike in cases we have long feared.

While the daily new cases reported count is now in the hundreds, we know (and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms) that the true case count is far higher due to logistical challenges and continued shortages in testing kits. With cases now spiking, the next likely crisis will be severe with illnesses flooding a healthcare system that is significantly under-resourced. The WHO warns that the combination of COVID-19 shutdown-induced economic shock and patients over-burdening the health system could trigger a terrible humanitarian catastrophe in a nation where half the population (six million people) lives below the extreme poverty line of $2/day.

At C2C, we began urgent preparations for the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March and we have been improving and reinforcing our capabilities constantly since then. At all of our clinics we have: 

  • Dedicated isolation areas where patients suspected of COVID-19 can wait to be screened.
  • Equipped all employees with N-95, surgical and reusable marks, as well as face protectors.
  • Ensured all clinic staff wear gloves and added hand sanitizers for staff and patient use.
  • Added temperature screening and hand-washing stations for all patients upon entry
  • Implemented daily morning COVID-19 educational talks with patients providing detail on symptom awareness, hygiene best practices, and the importance of wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing whenever possible


COVID-19 in our clinics:

We have now seen COVID directly impact our staff. A cluster in one of our clinics yielded 6 positive tests but thankfully none had severe illness (3 were asymptomatic and 3 experienced only mild symptoms). We are glad to report they are now back to work serving our patient communities.

Starting in April, we began to see a drop in patient volume as patients began to fear seeking care due to the perceived higher risk of COVID in clinics.  This is a phenomenon that has occurred worldwide but is a concern because it means our regular patients are deferring critical care. 

Unfortunately, this crisis in Haiti is far closer to the “end of the beginning” than the “beginning of the end”. We will continue to keep you apprised of our efforts to take on this monumental challenge in the communities we serve.  Thank you so much for supporting our work, none of these efforts would be possible without our incredibly generous supporters and partners.   

Thank you, again, from all of us! 

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

Together We Give: Communities Helping Communities

Dear friends,

In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Whether that’s through donations to community organizations, celebrating doctors and nurses at shift changes, or reaching out to a neighbor to help with groceries, generosity has been helping the entire world get through this global pandemic. Together.

C2C is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving. As you may already know, we are raising a COVID-19 Response Fund to equip our staff and facilities with essential equipment and supplies that will help to slow the spread of the virus in Haiti and save lives.

But we can’t do this without you!

Not only do we need your support, we need your help to spread the word. Please tell your friends and family why you believe in our work and encourage them to support us too!

Join the movement! Click to learn about ways you can participate in the #GivingTuesdayNow movement and don’t forget to share this with someone today.

Thank you for being a part of the C2C Team.

Hope you are healthy and safe.

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

Changing the World One Dinner at a Time: Dining for Women to Highlight C2C as Featured Grantee

C2C is proud to announce that we have been selected by global giving circle Dining for Women as a featured grantee for 2020! The funds that Dining for Women raises on behalf of C2C will go towards implementing a sexual and reproductive health education program for young girls and women in the communities we serve in Northern Haiti.

Dining for Women is a non-profit giving circle dedicated to empowering women and girls living in extreme poverty. Care 2 Communities will be its featured grantee for the month of December 2020. We are very excited for this new partnership and are grateful to Dining for Women for supporting our essential work to serve vulnerable women in Haiti and ensure they have the education they need to make informed decisions about their health.

Learn more about Dining for Women here.

This entry was posted on by Amanda Fata.

Leveraging Primary Care to Treat COVID-19 in Haiti


As of March 31st, the Haitian government had confirmed 15 cases of COVID-19.   While that number seems small, our great fear, just as we have seen elsewhere across the globe, is that we are only at the bottom of the curve and the numbers could spike very quickly in the coming weeks. 

The COVID-19 outbreak is now everywhere. In Italy, the virus overloaded hospitals in just three weeks which led to devastating stories of bed and ventilator rationing for patients. New York also seems to be entering a similar phase at the current moment.   

We are all wondering whether our governments could have done more and why our health care systems are so ill-prepared for a pandemic of this nature. But, what worries those of us who are so close to it is just how much more woefully unprepared Haiti’s healthcare system is compared to countries in Asia and Europe, and even the United States.

A recent World Bank study cited in the Miami-Herald highlights the gap we are facing.  Haiti spends just $13 on healthcare per capita vs. close neighbors like the Dominican Republic ($180) and Cuba ($781).  The whole Latin American and Caribbean region average is $336 and western nations range from $5,000 to almost $10,000. While recent trends are showing to be negative in terms of these gaps, Haiti’s government has steadily reduced national health spending over the past few years. In last year’s budget, only 5 percent of funds were allocated to health.

In a situation so massively under-resourced, Haiti will only be able to combat the coming epidemic if every component of the healthcare infrastructure is mobilized holistically. The World Bank study emphasized that a critical priority in the holistic approach should be on preventive healthcare where patients can be treated at the primary care level in a more cost-effective way. 

C2C is positively at the front line of this mobilization. Our founding vision hinged on the fact that primary care is consistently neglected, while it should be the core of a national health care system.  In an under-resourced country like Haiti, we have always been working to address the most cost-effective opportunity in improving health outcomes. The answer has always been access to quality primary care. As COVID-19 becomes established in Haiti, we must leverage the critical role we play in the system to mitigate its spread, improve outcomes, and save lives.   

As best as we can, we are preparing our clinics to respond to COVID-19 by training our staff on educational outreach, clinical management, best practice protocols, securing equipment and medical supplies, as well as working closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Health. We know that coordinated efforts are the best way to save as many lives as possible in the vulnerable communities we serve.   

But, the same challenges we are seeing in the United States (lack of respirators, testing kits, PPE, etc.) are massively greater in Haiti. Regardless of what we have done to prepare our staff and clinics, we know that current stocks of medicine and medical supplies are sparse and new sources of supply will be unpredictable at best and totally unavailable at worst. Despite all of this, we have to take on what’s coming. We will never be as ready as we would like but we will persevere. We must.

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

C2C’s Message on COVID-19 in Haiti

We are all struggling to process the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has already brought to our lives and, even more worryingly, what might be coming in the next few weeks and months. In that context, our most important wish is that you and your families stay safe and well. 

We know that there is a great deal of curiosity regarding how things are developing in Haiti and we wanted to provide a quick update for all of you.   

Thus far, there has not been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Haiti, but there are many confirmed cases across the border in the Dominican Republic. Haiti has closed its border and stopped almost all international flights. While these steps may slow the onset of the virus in Haiti, we know it is only a matter of time until there will be a spike in cases.  

We are using this period to prepare our staff and clinics as best as we can for what will likely be a very difficult situation once the virus becomes established. Haiti suffers from every issue (but multiplied) currently facing the United States and Europe: lack of testing kits, an extreme shortage of masks and sanitizers, as well as very few hospital beds that are equipped to handle the kind of extreme respiratory complications we saw in China and are seeing in Italy.

However, due to the worldwide nature of this crisis, it is very unlikely that international support will be available for Haiti once cases appear in significant numbers. The reality in Haiti is that many family members cohabitate in small spaces; there is almost no ability to store significant quantities of food at home; and most Haitians live in very crowded urban neighborhoods with poor sanitation. All this suggests that COVID-19 is likely to be absolutely devastating.

With great urgency, we are doing our part to prepare for the imminent arrival of the virus in Haiti.  We are working closely with the Ministry of Health as it finalizes its operational plans. And, with our clinic staff, we are putting processes in place including an extreme emphasis on handwashing, patient screening, and enhanced training on the importance of social separation. In addition to that, we are working to source supplies such as masks, thermometers, sanitizers, and medicine from as many possible sources as we can during this time of extreme medical supply scarcity.

We plan to keep you updated regarding our efforts and look forward to the date when we can all speak about this global pandemic in the past tense.    

We thank you for your support and wish you and your families the best in this difficult time.


This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.

We opened the FIRST clinic in a NEW Department in Haiti


Dear Friends, 

This past summer, we announced that we would be expanding our clinic network to a new department in Haiti. After a rocky year of civil unrest, road blockades, and fuel shortages that threatened the country’s stability, we decided to move forward and open our first clinic site in the Northeast Department of Haiti. 

Before we sought to rehabilitate government clinics in the Northeast Department, we formalized a newly forged public-private partnership (PPP) between C2C and the department’s Ministry of Health. After several meetings throughout the last few months, we decided that it was best to rehabilitate a government clinic in Roche Plate. 

Roche Plate, a communal section of Trou-du-Nord, is a small community of 13,750 people and is approximately 80 minutes from Cap-Haitien.

Map of the C2C clinic network. Our newest clinic, Roche Plate, is in yellow.
Map of the C2C clinic network. Our newest clinic, Roche Plate, is in yellow.

Although the site was already an established government clinic, it was in bad physical shape, lacked essential medications, had a very low patient volume, and overworked yet underpaid staff. We knew that by taking it on as a PPP clinic, we could infuse it with C2C’s operational excellence and ensure that patients have access to quality care in their own community, as well as a fully-stocked pharmacy that has all the necessary medications.

Before & After Renovations:

Prior to the transformation, the laboratory did not have electricity or equipment. The lab technician is now able to perform all lab tests on-site with all the necessary equipment and with an emphasis on high-quality service while meeting national lab standard protocols. 

We introduced our Electronic Medical Records system to Roche Plate, just as we transition each clinic from a purely “pen and paper” system for patient records, procurement, and administration to a completely electronic system that tracks a wider breadth and depth of data, including patient diagnoses, treatments, clinic-patient interaction, lab tests, prescriptions, treatment results, and all business and financial data.

Before renovations, the clinic did not have a private room for patient consultations. Since our model focuses on a patient-centered approach, our doctors and nurses meet with each patient individually and develop a treatment plan. Each patient visit is guided by quality assurance protocols to which our medical staff adheres.

Stay tuned to learn more about Roche Plate’s progress and the ways it continues to serve the community! 

This entry was posted on by Joyce Bassil Zerka.