Renovations Bring AIDS Treatment Closer to Patients

[“Jean-Marie” (back to camera) confides in journalist Hans Mars (facing the camera) during the inauguration of the new ART site in the Haitian town of Ouanaminthe.]“Jean-Marie” (back to camera) confides in journalist Hans Mars (facing the camera) during the inauguration of the new ART site in the Haitian town of Ouanaminthe.
 

Jean-Marie (real name withheld) kept a low profile at the celebration, but the opening of a new building at the health center in his home town of Ouanaminthe in northeast Haiti was changing his life for the better. The new site offers antiretroviral treatment (ART) for AIDS. Before now, Jean-Marie—who has been living with the disease for four years—had to regularly travel as much as 58 kilometers (36 miles) to receive his life-saving treatment. “The stretch was tiring and costly for me,” explains Jean-Marie who works in a T-shirt factory. Round-trip public transportation to the hospital he once had to travel to cost about US$10. (Haiti’s average, per capita annual income is about US$450.) With support from the Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haïti (SDSH) Project implemented by MSH’s all-Haitian team of dedicated professionals, the Socio-Medical Center of Ouanaminthe now has the renovated facilities, up-to-date training, and necessary commodities and supplies to offer the same comprehensive package of HIV management services that Jean-Marie used to receive at the distant hospital. The holistic care program at the Socio-Medical Center of Ouanaminthe also has a strong community component to raise awareness, reinforce prevention efforts, promote community care for orphans and other vulnerable children, and reduce stigma against people infected or affected by HIV & AIDS. Until now, the time and transportation fare associated with Jean-Marie seeking treatment was a burden on his family. The opening of his hometown ART center alleviates much of that pressure: “This is a very beneficial initiative for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to come back home for care.” The three-year, USAID-funded SDSH Project will provide almost half of Haiti’s population of eight million people with access to quality health care and will reach 15 percent of the Haitians who need antiretroviral therapy and 25 percent of those needing palliative care for HIV & AIDS in targeted areas.

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