Five years after the Haiti earthquake that took a quarter of a million lives and left millions more injured and homeless, Direct Relief has been among the largest providers of medical material aid to Haiti, which continues to build back and faces huge challenges. Direct Relief’s in-country network and distribution system now supports over 115 health facilities throughout the country with essential medical resources to care for patients.
Backed by the massive generosity of private and corporate supporters, Direct Relief put together its most comprehensive humanitarian response in its 66-year history, and has transformed its response into a commitment to making quality healthcare viable for the long term in Haiti.
Is it getting better?
More and better health services are available now to people in Haiti than before the earthquake. Challenges persist and progress is measured, but the unwavering support from people and companies has allowed Direct Relief to build and equip new surgical facilities, ensure rehabilitation services are available to people around the clock, and give 115 hospitals and clinics across the country access to medicine and medical supplies that can be ordered online at any time for no cost.
How has Direct Relief spent the money?
- Continuing the delivery of needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment. An effective and efficient distribution system built on four decades of work in Haiti has been aided by Direct Relief’s new online ordering system. Using a state-of-the-art, commercial grade IT backbone, Direct Relief created the only charitable online ordering platform for Haitian healthcare providers to efficiently order and receive medications and supplies at no cost to them.
- Ensuring access to long-term rehabilitation services. The $700,000 grant committed to Healing Hands for Haiti enabled them to fit more than 1,000 patients who suffered severe injuries from the earthquake with prosthesis and provide them with long-term rehabilitation care in a newly-built, state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital. They are now training more Haitians to become rehabilitation nurses and prosthetists so the future generations of persons with disabilities can be properly cared for.
- State-of-the-art eye care. More than 500 people with cataracts have the ability to see again, enabling them to work and care for their families as a result of the $5 million worth of state of the art eye equipment and medications donated by Alcon Labs.
- Fighting cholera. The IV fluids, oral rehydration therapy, and IV tubing donated by Baxter, Hospira, Abbott, and BD have treated more than 150,000 people, or about one-fifth of the population affected by cholera. These items have been stored in Direct Relief’s in-country depot and are rapidly deployed within hours of a cholera outbreak and have served patients in every section of the country.
- Protecting mothers and children during childbirth. The provision of new equipment and supplies donated to six maternity hospitals around the country have allowed for more than 500 cesarean sections and more than 2,000 safe deliveries since the program began in August. Over the course of the next three years, more than 15,000 women will feel safe giving birth where Direct Relief has provided these upgrades.
- Emergency preparedness. The eight hurricane modules that were pre-positioned throughout the country in preparation for hurricane season were each deployed and utilized in the aftermath of cholera outbreaks and Hurricane Sandy which devastated Haiti in October. These modules had enough supplies and medications to treat over 40,000 people.
What is still needed and how do we move forward?
Haiti has the highest prevalence of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and HIV infection in the Western Hemisphere. Pregnancy and its complications have become the leading cause of death and disability among mothers, and 70 out of 1,000 babies die during their first year.
In addition to continuing to get the right medicines in the right hands, broadening access to rehabilitative services, bolstering emergency preparedness, and fighting acute and chronic diseases like cholera and diabetes, Direct Relief is engaged in safe-motherhood interventions to protect mothers and children during childbirth.
These interventions include expanding access to safe deliveries by training and equipping traditional birth attendants and midwives, addressing complications in birth with emergency obstetric care, and enrolling mothers into the Prevention of Maternal-to-Child Transmission of HIV program. By targeting eight health centers strategically located in eight of the ten departments (or states) in Haiti, Direct Relief will reach a population of 563,000, including approximately 60,000 pregnant women.
More than 25,000 donors gave to Direct Relief to help people in Haiti after the earthquake. Direct Relief honors that commitment by ensuring 100% of those donations are used exclusively to help people in Haiti whose lives remain threatened by sickness, disease, and injury.
Unprecedented generosity deserves to be met with unprecedented action, and Direct Relief’s streamlined systems of health resources are helping to build permanent, high quality medical solutions for people in Haiti who can’t afford to pay for healthcare. Recovery from the earthquake simply isn’t enough, so Direct Relief will continue to bring the cost of delivering health services down in order to bring efficiency up so that more people in Haiti can receive the care they need to live happier, healthier lives.