Youth in MSH Leadership Program Continue to Raise HIV Awareness in Post-Earthquake Haiti
Youth make up more than half of Haiti’s total population—estimated at 8.4 million people—and they are the group most vulnerable to health crises such as HIV & AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. Despite the many challenges in post-disaster Haiti, MSH’s Leadership, Management, and Sustainability (LMS) program continues to build upon its successful youth-oriented leadership development work launched in 2009.
Nearly two dozen youth from Cité Soleil, a marginalized slum area in Port-au-Prince, had participated in a Leadership Development Program last year, focusing on how to reduce the prevalence of HIV & AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and lower the rate of teen pregnancy. By August 2009, these youth had trained more than 4,500 people in the prevention of HIV & AIDS, and trained 90 peer educators to help continue the work. One of their unique outreach strategies was a youth “rap,” with the lyrics focused on how leadership was an integral part of addressing the HIV & AIDS crisis.
After the January 12 earthquake, these youth were faced with myriad new challenges—including the loss of family and friends, and displacement from their homes. In the face of these obstacles, the youth rallied, and took on a leadership role in the earthquake recovery. Five months later, the youth are focusing their efforts on two areas: HIV & AIDS awareness and prevention; and family planning.
Their specific activities include:
- conducting a leadership development program for 42 additional peer educators who will build awareness among 1,000 youth living in tent cities about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV & AIDS and teen pregnancy
- educating 1,300 youth and adults in Cité Soleil about importance of family planning
- educating 2,000 men and women living in Cité Soleil about importance of HIV & AIDS awareness and prevention.
Youth work is just one aspect of the LMS program in Haiti. The LMS/Haiti team continues to fulfill its mandate of working with the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) to help build a unified national commodity security system. In the five months since the earthquake, LMS has distributed more than 8.6 million family planning commodities, including 8.2 million condoms; 240,830 oral contraceptives; 203,000 injectable methods; and 940 implants. To ensure ongoing compliance with US government family planning program regulations, LMS has also translated two posters with key family planning messages into Creole, and placed them in 142 US government-supported sites.