Offering Health to Our Communities
A pillar of the community - screenings, immunizations, pre-natal care and health education.
August 15, 2018 - Haiti
The NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital started a public health program in 2004. One nurse and seven health workers offer education and immunization to approximately 12,000 people living in the neighborhoods nearby St. Damien. The areas impacted are divided into sections, and each health worker living in the area works with local leaders to promote community health.
Vaccinations and nutritional assessments are offered in these communities. Immunizations are also administered to children who are born at the hospital or receive care in the general clinic. We provide a variety of vaccines and immunizations, treating patients with cases ranging from polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, to measles, rubella, and rotavirus. Approximately 500 children receive vaccines on a monthly basis, and close to 100 pregnant women per month receive vaccinations to prevent neonatal tetanus. Children are also screened for malnutrition-related complications and receive deworming medicine regularly. Another program, administered in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, provides medication to eradicate filariosis.
Educational sessions cover themes like nutrition, the importance of breastfeeding, sanitation, and prevention measures for TB, HIV, malaria, worms, or cholera. The public health program also participates in vaccination campaigns organized by the Ministry of Health. Health agents joined by others go to most schools in the area to also vaccinate children under five years of age.
I was lucky to join the healthcare workers who have been going to these communities to provide care and education, to see these programs first hand. The St. Damien team is doing incredible work to make sure that parents, families, and community leaders, are involved in these programs, to help push their effectiveness as far as possible. Our staff trains these leaders in public health education, for they are the members who are most listened to in their community, and can in turn spread this message to everyone.
I had the chance to speak with a mother who is one such community leader. She told us how much NPH Haiti means for her community, for as soon as they have someone ill – children or adults – they have brought them to the hospital and received medical care. She said her job is to motivate other mothers on how to take care of their children when they are sick, and advise them when to go see a doctor. She said our health workers train them on sexual-health related issues, and help advise them to not get involved in bad things at the community. She also shared about how they have not only received care locally in their community, but are also have been invited to St. Damien for a conference regarding their community-related health topics. “Thank you to NPH Haiti. Because when members of the community are sick, they have St. Damien to provide them with medicine and healthcare.”
The coordinator of our Public Health and HIV program believes that St. Damien is the best service that NPH can provide to the community because we provide healthcare, maternity support, programs for the disabled, immunizations, and much more; most of which are not available at the other parts of Haiti. “The people consider NPH a “poto mitan,” a pillar of the community.”