January 21, 2016

The Emerging Possibility for Haiti’s Health | A Haitian Diaspora Solution

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Spark Health, Inc: Refusing to Dance Around the Haitian Diaspora Dilemma.

When we take a look back over the success of Haitian immigrants coming to United States, it is easy to notice a clear trend of increasing College level education.  In 2013 Haitian immigrants attending universities in 2012/13 was up I reported 5% over the previous year. These stats are from the Institute of international education.

Important Statistics on Haiti and the Diaspora

That does not mean that being a Haitian immigrant has been easy.  It has been shown that Haitian immigrants are just as likely as any other immigrant from the Caribbean to live below the federal poverty level.
With such adversity and poverty at stake, Haitian immigrants have done well to forge ahead. As of 2012 the Haitian Diaspora was comprised of 954,000.

Here are some more statistics:

  • Population of Haiti: 10,032,619
  • Haitian population in the United States (2012):   606,000; 50% are naturalized citizens
  • 61% of Haitian immigrants arrived in the US before 2000, 30% between 2000 and 2009
  • 58,000 Haitian immigrants currently living in the US have been granted TPS. Temporary protected status (TPS) has been extended for Haitians in the US through Jan. 22, 2016 (this gives work authorization and grants relief from deportation).197,000 Haitians are in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area
  • 158,000 are in New York
  • 42,000 are in New Jersey
  • The rest are spread through Orlando, Atlanta, Philly, Naples, Bridgeport (CT), Washington DC, and Cape Coral, with population counts descending in that order
  • 79% of Haitians in the US are of working age
  • 40% of Haitian immigrant adults are employed in the service industry

An Unforgiving Earthquake

During a devastating earthquake in Haiti, 60 percent of an already dysfunctional health system was destroyed.  The main problem of their healthcare system is that it there is no structure, well-trained staff, equipment, drugs and proper funding to keep the healthcare system running.

Subsequently 10 percent of Haiti’s medical staff were either killed or left the country.  Their main teaching hospital had about 150 nursing students that were killed and two-thirds of the buildings destroyed.

It was left up to Haiti’s remaining dedicated native healthcare professionals along with (Non-governmental Organizations) NGO’s, Faith-based and charity clinics to provide what they can for the Haitian people at the time.  Most of them work under temporary shelters, and even set up an inflatable hospital to be able to provide services.

But the group that was left unrecognized where the Haitian Diaspora where they not only traveled to provide direct assistance to Haiti but there was also an increase in their remittances (money they send to their families) immediately after the earthquake.

An Emerging Solution

Despite these efforts, majority of the Haitians in Haiti still struggle to access the health care they need today. For example, the HUEH (Hôpital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti), the only public hospital offering orthopedic surgical care in the country, is still not fully rehabilitated and functional.

The results of inadequate planning immediately after the earthquake did not secure enough resources to have proper trained staff, sufficient medications, guaranteed maintenance, and or medical material to run health facilities around the country. Although new health facilities have been built throughout the country, the impact of Haiti’s economic reality leave these facilities empty with no sustainable solution.

Now a new possibility has emerged for the Haitian Diaspora to provide a more sustainable option for their families. And, through their enrollment into the SPARK Health program they are indirectly influencing Haiti’s healthcare priorities and its resources towards providing primary and preventative healthcare services to their loved ones, in other words, to keeping those they care about the most Healthy!