Overcoming Obstacles to Feed Haiti’s Children

Mobile health clinics from Partners in Health venture into violence-wracked regions of rural Haiti to combat malnutrition and curb high child mortality. Their success treating children, combined with advocacy for equal distribution of resources, helps fight hunger and harmful gender biases.

Source: WHO

In the rural Artibonite region of Haiti, mobile health clinics are working to address the country’s crisis of hunger and malnutrition. Over 40% of Haitians face major gaps in food access, leaving children especially vulnerable. Nearly 1 in 4 children under age 5 are stunted, and 1 in 10 will die before their fifth birthday, mostly due to lack of proper nutrition.

To curb this deadly trend, Zanmi Lasante, the name of Partners in Health in Haiti, sends vans staffed with medical workers into remote villages. Seeking earlier treatment for malnourished kids, they provide food assistance and basic care. In the year before the mobile clinics, 18 children died of malnutrition at one hospital. The following year saw more than a 50% drop in deaths. Overall, the clinics have treated over 2,250 children and conducted close to 19,000 nutritional screenings.

Source: WHO

The program also aims to shift biases that underlie hunger crises. Clinicians observe that traditional views of boys needing more nourishment mean girls disproportionately suffer moderate to severe malnutrition. Yet more boys develop life-threatening complications, due to the notion that boys are more robust and don’t need treatment as soon. Addressing stereotypes that distribute resources unequally, staff advise equal feeding regardless of gender.

Despite enormous hurdles — gas shortages, vehicle issues, roadblocks from violent gangs — the mobile units persevere. Their commitment to delivering care inside violence-torn communities is saving young lives. Though risks abound, the clinics are making progress in both reducing malnutrition and promoting the health of Haiti’s children.

Read the full article on the Partners in Health website.

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About Angels in Medicine

Angels in Medicine is a volunteer site dedicated to the humanitarians, heroes, angels, and bodhisattvas of medicine. The site features physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers and volunteers who reach people without the resources or opportunities for quality care, such as teens, the poor, the incarcerated, the elderly, or those living in poor or war-torn regions. Read their stories at www.medangel.org.

Interested in writing for Angels in Medicine? Know about an Angel we should interview? Drop me a note at harry@medangel.org.

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