Water Projects & Health Center in La Soufriere:
In response to the cholera epidemic, we have established a concrete presence in a rural area in the mountains near Cap Haitien to provide healthcare to a population of over 10,000 people who, even before the earthquake in January of 2011, had no heath care infrastructure. We advocated for the region and encouraged Doctors without Borders/Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF) to be partners on the cholera response. Together, we were able to launch a community-based cholera response utilizing local infrastructure, civic organizations, and leadership to effectively distribute information and supplies as well as get as many patients as possible access to the cholera clinic/tent.
On February 5, 2011, our Haitian team took over the running of the entire cholera clinic as MSF continues to scale back its leadership on the cholera response. The cholera clinic is continuing to function and we are slowly adding additional primary health care aspects to the clinic. The clinic is entirely staffed and organized by our Haitian team which includes a community health worker and nursing staff living at Soufriere and several Haitian doctors who spend their days off each week helping. Recently, in August 2012, we added two fulltime nurses through the Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP) who are joining our staff in order to provide primary care services–in addition to the established cholera care–to the population on a more regular basis.
The dream from the very beginning was to build a permanent health center at Soufriere and find and train local people to staff it. We have made major strides in that direction in the past two years! Some other people with a family connection to Soufriere have begun rebuilding the un-finished clinic structure that the government abandoned about a decade ago and so GROW Haiti and the community committee are working with them on an operation and management plan for that permanent facility. We have acquired additional funds from UNICEF via the Ministry of Health and will be applying for some more funds from the United National Development Program to help complete the buildings. This new development has been very exciting and heartening for everyone involved.
La Soufriere water and sanitation project: This past January 2012, a volunteer team of engineers completed a water system in La Soufriere. This involved capping a spring, which runs to a cistern, and then eventually ends at a standpipe in the community center. Currently they are preparing for spring rains, which just began and think that the cholera burden will be lower due to education and the new water system. W.H.O. and the Ministry of Health are continuing to give attention, advice, and support to Soufriere and our team’s work because they have proven they can pull something off! Click here to read our January Water Project Report!
Soufriere Cholera/Health Center Project: Soufriere is a rural area about 2 hours from Cap Haitien with no road access or basic infrastructure. It is home to about 12,000 people who are mostly farmers and/or charcoal manufacturers. The Soufriere project began in 2010 with several exploratory visits and meetings with local leaders. During the cholera epidemic in late 2010, GROW partnered with Doctors Without Borders and many others to provide a response to the health disaster and engage the local community in further discussions about the future of their health. Since then, we have made steady progress and a three-armed team including GROW and various experts, the community of Soufriere, and the government/authorities. We have worked on water and sanitation projects, much outreach work, vaccine drives, mobile clinics, and slowly developing the services offered at our tent that we began using during the cholera response.