Only 0.2 doctors per 10,000 people
Secondary to its current status as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, the reality of health care in Haiti is tragic. Only 6% of Haiti’s economy is focused on health care, and this results in inadequate access to care, medication, and hospitals/clinics.
Overall, Haiti has 1 doctor per 4,000 people. In the rural areas where we work, there are only 0.2 doctors per 10,000 people! Half of the Haitian population has no access to a safe/clean water supply. And 60% of the population is unable to obtain sufficient food to eat. The result is rampant parasitic and bacterial disease, on top of the preexisting malnutrition.
Gospel first, but health is a close second
Malnutrition, especially protein malnutrition, results in a weakened immune system that is unable to mount an adequate defense against microbial invaders, and the result is death at the hands of diseases that are easily treatable. Greater than 50% of Haitians have no access to medication, and 50% of children are not vaccinated, resulting in cases of pertussis, measles, etc. The life expectancy of a Haitian male is 60 years (in the U.S. it is 78, and globally it is 70), and 60 out of 1000 infants will die before seeing their first birthday. All of this devastation results from the extreme poverty, lack of resources, and political corruption that is the reality of Haiti.
Charis is primarily concerned with sharing the gospel of Christ with Haiti, which will result in a hope that transcends this world. With that said, we do realize, that in order to optimize people’s ability to receive, understand, and hear the gospel, the health of Haiti must be addressed. We, therefore, are involved in improving health care in our communities.
How Charis is involved
Charis believes that nursing is the backbone of medicine and thus vital to any functional health care system. So we are supporting young women, who have finished secondary school and have an interest in nursing, and sponsoring them through nursing school. We feel that this is a great investment that will yield returns within the rural communities that God has placed us in direct relationship with. Our request to the nurses that we are supporting through school is that they will agree to staff clinics that we are setting up in isolated mountain communities. This will stabilize these communities from a health care perspective.
God has pressed upon our hearts to establish mobile clinics for the purpose of serving isolated, and difficult to reach communities deep in the mountains of South Haiti. Due to difficult terrain that makes access via motorized vehicles impossible, these villages have no access to health care or medicine. The mortality rates in these areas are unacceptable as dozens of children die of malnutrition and starvation monthly, while adults die prematurely as they succumb to treatable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Secondary to God preparing the way, through new partnerships, and lining everything up that we need to initiate this effort, we will begin, in 2015, to serve rural Haiti through identifying villages in need, and then traveling, at frequent intervals, to these areas and serving their health care needs.
Countless small communities lie hidden in the rugged topography of Haiti. Having witnessed these areas, we know the dire need for permanent clinics to be established. Initiating the effort through mobile clinic site visits, Charis will then determine, through prayer, if there exists a need to follow up with the construction, maintenance, and staffing of standing clinics. Through our support of young women through nursing school, we will staff these clinics with our graduating nurses and fund their salaries through donations from those who have a heart for the medical needs of those who are suffering in the developing world.
Join one of the medical mission teams
Medical mission work within developing countries depends on mission teams, consisting of doctors representing various specialties, dentists, and nurses, to come and serve the “least of these”. The ongoing suffering caused by advanced diseases and untreated ailments is impressive in Haiti. ‘Mountain medicine’ provides an education that is unattainable in Western medicine secondary to the nonexistence, in the West, of what one will observe and treat in Haiti.
Very often, a diagnosis is even difficult to make, as the absence of technology leaves many physicians and nurses, who trained in the United States, in uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. These trips will undoubtedly improve any health care worker’s clinical skills, diagnostic ability, and knowledge of tropical diseases, which will translate into greater clinical efficacy at one’s home practice. More important than all of that though, is the great need that you will have the privilege of meeting, and the pain and disability that you will alleviate. Your service will allow people to return to work, sleep at night free of pain, and function in society at a higher level secondary to their improved health..
If you are reading this and your heart is stirred, please consider coming to Haiti and serving. Even if you are not a ‘medical professional’ you can definitely help or assist in some aspect of patient care. We are honored that God has placed Charis in a position that allows us to be a conduit between your desire and its eventual fruition. Haiti needs your skill, please prayerfully consider coming to serve—I can guarantee that your heart will receive a payment that you could never attain in the United States. You have the opportunity here to truly be God’s hands and feet!