“The Most Vulnerable”: St Damien’s Public Health Center Provides Outreach to 15 Tent Cities

Over half a million Haitians still reside in the squalor tent cities that tumble across Port-au-Prince. While a decline from the over one million Haitians who found shelter in these dwellings directly following the quake, those that are left are “are “the most vulnerable, the hard cases, the lost”, according to the Internal Organization for Migration.

Given the conditions of the tent cities, it is no surprise that residents are at risk for a plethora of public health maladies, including cholera, an epidemic which has infected over 440,000 Haitians, and killed 6,300. In order to respond to this need, the Public Health Center of St. Damien has been doing outreach 15 of the tent camps* in the Tabarre area.

At the camps, the public health center provides both education and preventive care-teaching the populations about both infectious and non-infections illnesses. They visit the “homes” of patients, and meet with community leaders. There is extensive community involvement from everything to cleanup campaigns and immunizations to outreach to pregnant women from 15 to 49 years old.

The most common illnesses they see are IRA (acute respiratory infection), scabies, and diarrhea. Serious cases are referred to St Damien Pediatric Hospital, which serves as a tertiary healthcare system, or St Luke Medical Center, which provides secondary care for children and adults.

Says Michelle, the coordinating nurse. “The services we provide at these camps serve a vital need that prevents people already living on the edge from falling over. We hope that the international and national efforts to rebuild and resettle those displaced by the earthquake will continue to aid and help those most in need. Complimentary programs by St Luke, such as their Houses for Health Program (which aims to build 1,000 houses in regions where poor housing and squalor living situations cause and complicate numerous illnesses and diseases) aim to provide homes that preserve the dignity and the autonomy of the Haitian people and increase health outcomes for children and adults

*These camps are

  1. Fleurio: (Citi Kay Mere)
  2. Clercine: (Lamartiniere Family)
  3. Troutier: (Troutier)
  4. Dumornay (La Cour Dumornay)
  5. Galette Tapage: (Camp Galette Tapage)
  6. Caradeux (Caradeaux Camp)
  7. Izmolie, (Tabarre 27)
  8. Jean Paul (Tabarre 27)
  9. La Cour Kenepe (Tabarre 27)
  10. Lekol Nastyonal de Tabarre (Tabarre 27)
  11. Diaboule (Santo 23, Camp Diaboule)
  12. Manitane (Tabarre)
  13. Marecafe
  14. Soisson
  15. St Germaine (Santo 17)

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