Sustainable Development Is the Way to a Healthy Future for Haiti
In the most recent issue of the Journal of International Peace Operations, Paul Auxila, MSH’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, calls for “sustainable development, beyond humanitarian assistance and reconstruction.”
Before the earthquake, the government of Haiti was making significant progress to improve the quality of and access to health services. In “A Healthy Future for Haiti: The Health System Provides a Useful Case Study for Haiti’s Reconstruction,” Mr. Auxila describes the Ministry of Public Health and Population’s transition from a national system in which many uncoordinated actors were using a variety of plans, to a health system where each geographic department of the country has their own plan. By bringing together 147 public and private sites in all 10 of Haiti’s departments, the Ministry reached 45 percent of the population, and delivered an integrated package of health services. MSH provided technical assistance to the project with funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The partnership between the Haitian Ministry of Health, the public-private network, and USAID produced significant results in maternal-child health, HIV & AIDS, and family planning. For example, after 4,000 traditional birth attendants were trained, 45 percent of pregnant women received care at three prenatal visits, and more than 49,000 were tested for HIV. The project also created thousands of jobs, contributing to Haiti’s economic development.
Mr. Auxila believes that for Haiti to effectively rebuild, in a way that will result in self-reliance and sustainability, progress must continue:
Without the involvement of everyone—including the young people who comprise almost half the population, women and rural people—true development will not be possible. The Haitian government, aid groups, and civil society agree that decentralization represents the best model of governance .The challenge will be to broaden access to health care and other social services in all departments, while simultaneously rebuilding the health system in earthquake-affected areas.
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