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Healthcare in Haiti: No Map, No Plan, No System

Introduction: Haiti

Haiti is one of those places that every tourist wishes to visit for the sake of exotic impressions, yet not a single soul wishes to live in because of the dreadful state of economy, an upsetting political situation and deplorable healthcare services. Though Haiti is primarily known for its unique culture, what truly needs a closer attention is its healthcare, which literally needs to be built from scratch. It is only with the help of comprehensive nursing principles for the Haitian healthcare that the quality of the nursing services can be upgraded.

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Haiti is located on Hispaniola, one of the major islands of the Greater Antilles (CIA, 2014, para. 2). In the Caribbean Sea, Haiti is among the largest islands; it lands on the third place after Cuba and Dominica (CIA, 2014, para. 2). Though the state is not far away from Cuba and Dominica, its flora and fauna are rather scarce, and its landscape is quire rigged, the surface being very uneven and mountains being very numerous.


Though Haiti is relatively large compared to the rest of the states located on the archipelago, its population is currently growing despite the poor healthcare and nursing services. According to the national statistics, at present, in 2014, the Haitian population estimates 10,382,688 people; compared to 2010, the number of people inhabiting Haiti has grown by 4.9% (Haiti population 2014, 2014, para. 1–6). Among these people,


Haiti is known as a semi-presidential republic. Michel Martelly is the current president of Haiti; he is responsible for appointing the head of the Haitian parliament. In 2012, he chose Laurent Lamothe as the Prime minister of the state.


Haiti has never been economically advanced, and, in the light of the recent epidemics, the state seems to have sunken into the depth of economic recession (CIA, 2014, para. 5).

State of Health

As it has been stressed above, the most notable accident that has occurred on Haiti over the past few decades, the earthquake has taken a lot of lives and left a number of people injured. According to the official statistics, 230,000 people died and 300,000 people got injured as a result of the earthquake (WHO, 2012).

As far as the rates of violence on Haiti are concerned, the country can be considered one of the most troubled regions in the world. In 2011, the rates of sexual violence in the state went through the roof; according to the official statistics, around 250 instances of sexual violence against women were reported during January (Haiti: Sexual violence against women increasing, 2011).

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Apart from the aforementioned issues, the rates of child mortality are very high in Haiti. When defining the reasons for the phenomenon specified, healthcare specialists often mention the fact that more than 90% of the Haitian children are unvaccinated. Because of extremely poor sanitation and living conditions, the contraction of malaria and the following death are inevitable in most cases (CDC, 2014).

Culture/Traditional Medicine

Naturally, the Haitian culture has a rich healthcare tradition. Among the key concepts of the alternative medicine, Celtic herbs should be mentioned. The Haitian national medicine based on Voodoo practice enhances spirituality and, thus, creates the premises for a faster recovery (Thomas-Stevenson, 1991, para. 1).

Healthcare System and Delivery

Governmental Health-Related Agencies

The governmental health-related organizations are not numerous in Haiti. Among the key ones, the Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pan American Health Organization must be named (Haiti Embassy, 2014).

One must mention, though, that most healthcare support for the Haitian people comes from non-governmental facilities, including Partners in Health (PIH) facilities (Central Plateau), Comité de Bienfaisance (CBP) Hospital (Pignon) and Albert Schweitzer Hospital (Deschapelles). Apart from the private organizations within the state, the Haitians also use the services of the neighboring Dominican Republic (Haiti: Humanitarian response info, 2014).

Healthcare Personnel

According to the statistical data, per 100,000 people, there are approximately 11 physicians and 24 nurses (IMCHF, 2012, para. 4). As a result, according to the official data, only 60% of the population has a direct access to the healthcare facilities (IMCHF, 2012, para. 4). Therefore, it is obvious that more funds need to be invested into developing the education system, which will allow for recruiting new healthcare staff that will be more competent. It is crucial that the latest technologies should be utilized in order to speed up the process of teaching the new staff (Smith, 2004). In addition, the number of healthcare experts can be increased with the improvement of the current education system and with a stronger emphasis on the education for nurses and other healthcare staff (Simpson, 2004).

Nursing Education System and Accrediting Organizations

As one might have guessed based on the data concerning the quality of healthcare on Haiti, the system of the local healthcare education leaves much to be desired. Indeed, a closer look at the state education system in general and the healthcare and nursing education in particular will reveal that little to no attention is paid to updating the information taught in the corresponding education establishments, not to mention the fact that the information provided to the students is very dated (Trunell, 2010). The Pennsylvania State University reports that the quality of education in Haiti is “at the inter-American level” (University of Pennsylvania, 2011), yet the statistical data shows that the number of people graduating with a Master or a Bachelor degree in nursing is desperately low.

Nursing Associations and Non-Profit Private Organizations

Apart from private companies, which clearly do not provide the entire spectrum of services, which the Haitians need, several private organizations were created after the recent cataclysm and the cholera epidemics. The aforementioned MSF has improved the current state of affairs regarding healthcare in Haiti impressively; in 2010, after the tragic cholera outbreak and the earthquake, 358,000 patients received treatment from the MSF, 16,570 surgeries were performed and 15,100 births were assisted in Haiti (MSF, 2013, para. 11).

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However, it is yet too early to claim that all the necessary steps have been undertaken in order to get the Haiti healthcare field prepared for a massive restructuring. Though the MSF provides admittedly significant assistance in advancing the Haitian healthcare, the key issues have not been solved yet.

Health Priorities

As it becomes clear from the facts listed above, the key objective for the Haiti healthcare and nursing is to get the priorities straight and conjure a viable strategy that will help address various healthcare issues efficiently. Judging by the fact that gender violence is a major issue in the state, a major part of the efforts must be directed onto creating a range of state agencies, where the victims of sexual abuse may receive the help and support that they need.

The next step that needs to be taken in order to improve the current system of the Haiti healthcare is improving the sanitation system, as well as provide the residents of the state with the access to clean water. Because of the epidemics of cholera, which was mentioned above, the population of Haiti is in desperate need for resources, theirs being contaminated.

In addition, the number of organizations, where the survivors of the earthquake and the cholera epidemics may seek help, must be increased. The amount of hospitals and other state organizations, where experienced and knowledgeable staff may tend to the patients’ needs is quite little; therefore, it is crucial that new healthcare facilities must be created in order to help any person than needs medical assistance.

Finally, it is crucial that the Haiti authorities should be able to attract non-profit organizations, which will invest into the evolution of the state’s healthcare system. Though at present, MSF is assisting the Haitians actively by addressing the issues of the cholera outbreak and the aftereffects of the earthquake, the residents of Haiti clearly need more help.

Nursing Implications

While the task that the Haitian nursing specialists are currently facing is admittedly complicated, it is still achievable. The Haitian healthcare system clearly needs a complete rearrangement, and there is hardly anything that a nursing specialist can do in order to speed the process up; unfortunately, the process of reconstructing the healthcare field depends fully on the local and state authorities, as well as on the financial assistance received from the investors and sponsors. Still, even an ordinary nurse is capable of contributing to the process by making a few simple steps. The first and the most important one concerns education. Unfortunately, the Haitian education does not encourage lifelong education – or, at least, it does not create the premises for students to be excited about the perspective of lifelong learning. Therefore, the very least that a nursing specialist can do in order to address the problems that the Haiti residents are facing at present is promoting awareness among the residents of the state (Skolnik, 2012) so that they could be able to recognize the health problem that they may face and address it timely.

Reference List

CDC (2014). Malaria acquired in Haiti. Web.

CIA. (2014). Central America and Caribbean: Haiti. Web.

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Haiti Embassy (2014). Centers for disease control and prevention. Web.

Haiti: Humanitarian response info (2014). Web.

Haiti population 2014. (2014). Web.

Haiti: Sexual violence against women increasing. (2011). Web.

IMCHF. (2012). Haiti. Web.

MSF. (2013). Haiti: Much work remains to improve access to healthcare. Web.

Simpson, R. L. (2004). No borders nursing: How technology heals global ills. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 28(1), 55-59.

Skolnik, R. (2012). Global health 101 (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Smith, C. (2004). New technology continues to invade healthcare. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 28(2), 92-98.

Thomas-Stevenson, B. (1991). Ozarkian and Haitian folk medicine. Web.

Trunell, A. (2010).Five improvised medical gadgets that save money and lives. TakePart: Inspiration for action. Web.

University of Pennsylvania. (2011). University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing supports nursing education in Haiti. Web.

WHO. (2012). Earthquake in Haiti – one year later. Web.

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