Dadi Ediane is 19 and has two children. On a warm fall morning, a nurse from Médecins du Monde Canada (MdM Canada) making her rounds in a sector of Cité Soleil notices that Dadi's baby is sick. She gives the young mother a bar of antibacterial soap and advises her to take her baby to the clinic.
If MdM Canada did not have a clinic in Cité Soleil, it is doubtful Dadi Ediane would have access to health care for her sick baby. She does not have the means to pay for a consultation or for medication, as is the case for most of the 400,000 residents of Cité Soleil.
In this sprawling shantytown located in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, Haitian people live in extreme poverty, without electricity, sewers, schools or stores. Sanitation is non-existent, making Cité Soleil a breeding ground for disease. The slum is also plagued by frequent robberies, rapes, kidnappings, and murders.
When the first signs of cholera appeared in Port-au-Prince, MdM Canada once again responded quickly and effectively. The organization set up a 24-hour treatment centre for those infected. Mobile clinics provided bars of soap to prevent new infections and rehydration packets for affected families. Through all of this, MdM Canada imparts a source of stability and reassurance for the people of Cité Soleil.
Active in Haiti for more than a decade, MdM Canada provides health care and free obstetrical care to Cité Soleil's most vulnerable—women, newborns, and seniors. The organization also does a lot of preventive health education, essential in an environment where safe drinking water is scarce and latrines inadequate, where mosquitoes are ever present, and where waste-strewn roads are turned to mud by the rain.
As Cité Soleil has very high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, the organization has established a maternal health clinic, training midwives and health workers to provide quality care as well as raise awareness about contraception and sexual violence.
After the 2010 earthquake, MdM Canada, with support from CIDA, responded promptly to provide relief to the residents of Cité Soleil. The organization set up three mobile health clinic teams to visit 17 camps every week. In the midst of disaster and total chaos, these teams achieved impressive results: more than 21,000 consultations, 4,800 psychosocial support sessions, and more than 18,000 immunizations, as well as more than 700 workshops to entertain the children. Their visits provide reassurance to a community that has nothing and feels abandoned by everyone.
"I am very happy with the help MdM Canada provides" says Guerline Augustin. "Following the earthquake, they brought in a psychologist to the camp. The doctors take care of us and help us to deal with stress. They sit down and talk to us about how to manage our lives." Adds Kemly Barais: "Thanks to them, our children are not dying of diarrhea."
Link to video: CIDA in Haiti: A day in the life of Médecins du Monde Canada
Médecins du Monde Canada: A reassuring presence in Cité Soleil (PDF, 440 KB, 2 pages)
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