St. Damien HIV and Public Health Programs by Monica Gery


The NPH Haiti St. Damien Pediatric Hospital HIV Program began in April 2005 using its own funds to provide care for a few children infected with HIV. The children were identified from where Fr. Rick Frechette was holding an ambulatory clinic in the slums of Cite Soleil and Warf Jeremie. Included in this program were approximately 20 NPH youths living at the St. Helene orphanage in Kenscoff.

In December 2005, St. Damien submitted a proposal to receive funds from the US/PEPFAR program. St. Damien received a grant from the University of Washington, contracting with CDC/PEPFAR in Haiti, to care for children exposed and infected with HIV. With these funds St. Damien was able to hire a multidisciplinary team and started to enroll more children exposed and infected with HIV. The team is made up of one psychologist, two social workers, four physicians including the manager of the program, four nurses, two pharmacists, five field workers, one mid wife, and four administrative staff. The five field agents visit the families to make sure the children receive appropriate care at home, and are compliant to their medication. The field agents encourage the patients to return to the clinic if they miss their appointments.

In 2011, the HIV program, in conjunction with the maternity department added a prevention program for pregnant women infected with HIV to prevent the transmission of the virus to their newborns. Children are screened for HIV along with their mothers at the general ambulatory clinic and then enrolled in our care if they test positive.

Annually, the program screens 10,000 adults and children for HIV ending with 2% being positive. Together with their parents, the children infected with HIV receive psychological follow up care and medical treatment including anti-retroviral therapy. Social workers assist with coordination of other

PEPFAR or Global Fund programs offering economical help, food, housing, vocational training, micro credit opportunities and academic scholarships).  To date, approximately 900 children are followed, 361 receive anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Sixty pregnant women infected with HIV are followed or have given birth through the prevention program. Often times it is too late for prevention because mothers receive screening only when they come to deliver their babies. The infants then receive prophylaxis at birth.


Public Health agent visits community patients

Public Health

The NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital started a Public Health Program in 2004. One nurse and seven health agents offer education and immunization to approximately 12,000 people living in proximity to St. Damien. The areas are divided into sections and each health agent living in this area work with the leaders to promote community health.

Vaccinations and nutritional assessment are offered in the communities based on a calendar schedule. Immunizations are also performed for children born at the hospital or coming through the general clinic to update their immunization.

Approximately 500 children receive vaccines on a monthly basis. Those living in the target areas  complete their vaccination. For the others the information is not available.  About 100 pregnant women monthly receive vaccination to prevent neonatal tetanus.

Children are also screened for malnutrition and receive deworming medicine regularly. Other programs include medication to eradicate filariosis in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

Education sessions cover nutrition, importance of breastfeeding, sanitation, prevention measures for TB, HIV, malaria, worms, cholera, birth spacing, etc. The public health program participates in vaccination campaigns organized by the Ministry of Health. Health agents joined by others go to most schools to vaccinate children under five years of age.

Next year, we will be able to offer sexual education for youths in the schools located in the community, joining the HIV program in its prevention activities.

The total number served by the St. Damien HIV and Public Health Programs is 22,000.   Click here to view photos of our public health agents working in the community.


HIV program: Funds and micro loans to help the families of children infected and affected with HIV.  Many times the socio economic problems are profound and as the children improve with medication they need to go to school. Most families cannot afford to send their child to school. Funds are also needed to provide lab tests currently not available in the PEPFAR network but that can be very helpful to improve the care of the children.

Public health program: Three computers to document immunization records. For the moment we only use paper registers. We also need funds to provide air conditioning in the room where we stock our vaccines in two refrigerators, to improve our cold chain. In summer time it is a challenge to keep the required temperature.

Total number served: 22,000

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