The Methodist Church of Haiti, Église Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH), currently operates eight clinics throughout the country to support the population’s growing health concerns.
By Julia Kayser*
August 15, 2013—Haiti has the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Malaria is a constant threat, as are waterborne diseases. For example, there were more than 340,000 reported cases of cholera in 2011—when compared to the country’s total population, that’s about one reported case for every thirty people.
The Methodist Church of Haiti, Église Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH), is fighting to provide health care to Haitians. It currently operates eight clinics throughout the country. Visiting doctors, through United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, have helped staff these clinics and provide medical care for local communities in Haiti. But still, with the exception of one clinic that offers ophthalmologic and surgical services when it has electricity, these EMH clinics operate at or below a basic level of care.
Many clinics were damaged during the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, and several were destroyed altogether. But rebuilding efforts have been fruitful. In January 2013, a clinic was reopened after having been completely rebuilt. Two other facilities are still under construction to repair damages, while doctors and nurses continue to provide care.
As the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) transitions its work in Haiti from disaster response to long-term development, health care is a priority. UMCOR is working with EMH to help the church develop a sustainable approach to health care by developing and training a health board.
UMCOR’s health board model, which builds the capacity of local leaders and specialists to spearhead health program development, has had great success in Africa. It’s one of the things that undergird strong health initiatives like Imagine No Malaria.
The EMH Health Board had its first official meeting last month, from July 13 to 15. This meeting included orientation to the health board structure and a review of the church’s eight clinics. It also gave the 25 participants a chance to reflect on their mission and vision, and to answer the questions: Whom do we serve? What services do we provide? What do we do best? What do we do that no one else can do? Responses to these questions will help the health board determine local health program priorities.
This meeting was co-financed by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF), UMCOR’s colleague in the UK. Executives from both relief agencies—Shannon Trilli from UMCOR and Maurice Adams from MDRF—were present. “Our aim is to pull together health experts in EMH and take them through a process of identifying health priorities and needs,” says Trilli.
One of the biggest priorities addressed in last month’s meeting was promoting consistency in the administration of the clinics. Trilli says the health board wants to “invest in human resources and professional capacity development.” There’s also a big push to develop best practices among the clinics.
UMCOR remains committed to assisting Haitians in their long-term recovery and development and in identifying sustainable solutions to felt needs such as health care.
You can help fund development projects in Haiti with a donation to Advance #418325: Haiti Response. You can also support UMCOR’s Global Health programs through Advance #3020622.
*Julia Kayser is a writer and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.