Southern Haiti Braces for the Impact of Coronavirus

For the last several weeks, the staff at HEI/SBH have been working on protocols and plans for triage, treatment, and infection control for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Haiti. Unfortunately, we believe that it is not a matter of if coronavirus comes to Haiti, but when.

SBH is working together with the Haitian Ministry of Health and healthcare facilities across the South Department to create a plan for treating and mitigating the spread of the disease in our region. The challenge that lays before us is too large for any one hospital: it is paramount that we work together as a region, a country, and a global community to save as many lives as possible.

Over our nearly 30-year history, we have led the response to many public health crises in the region. From helping survivors of the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew to stemming the rise of cholera, to helping our community weather severe drought, SBH has long stood as a beacon of hope and safety during uncertain times. We continue to do so today, as our staff works around the clock to prepare for coronavirus.

We are meeting regularly with the Haitian Ministry of Health and healthcare providers in southern Haiti to create diagnostic and treatment protocols. We are also working together to create a plan for how to share the burden of care, to prevent any one healthcare facility from becoming overwhelmed.

We are working with our partners at Build Health International on plans for treatment centers, additional oxygen support, and infection control.

Our community health team is conducting education events to instruct hundreds of people each week about how they can prevent catching and spreading the virus.

Our staff at the hospital are running a simulation early this week, and we have a finalized order of personalized protective equipment (PPE) to be purchased as soon as possible.

Finally, we are working with our supply chain team and global network of supporters to ensure we have all of the resources and equipment we need to confront this challenge while still providing high-quality care to the more than 600 patients who come to our doors each day.

Right now, families and communities around the world are fearful of the uncertainty that lay before us. As our friend and Board Member David Walton recently wrote, the poor and vulnerable will be disproportionately impacted by coronavirus. Containing coronavirus in Haiti— where access to clean water is a rarity and where entire families often live together in one small room—will be a tremendous challenge. But we are unwavering in our belief that all in this together. And together, we can—and we must—work together to keep one another stay healthy and safe.