Community Overview: Rivière Froide is part of the Carrefour, Ouest department, a mostly residential community that is part of metropolitan Port-au-Prince. The population is generally very poor and numbers over 400,000. It is also the home to the “flagship” health clinic of the Little Sisters of Saint Therese (Petite Soeurs de Sainte Thérèse) (PSST). The area has struggled to recover from the 2010 earthquake and the child mortality rate due to preventable diseases remains very high.
Project Partner: Little Sisters of Saint Therese
This is an indigenous order of Haitian Sisters that was founded in 1948 to work with the neediest people in Haiti. The Little Sisters work in health, education, and agriculture and have 42 missions throughout the country. Their reach covers small towns in almost every Haitian province. Their healthcare presence includes 20 sisters who are involved in the management and delivery of health services in 15 clinics and three hospitals that are spread throughout the country, but concentrated in areas where there are few other service providers.
Project Overview: While the Little Sisters have a long history and wide reach within the country, they operate with very limited resources. They are an impressive group of women who are goal-oriented and achieve much with whatever resources are available to them. With additional resources and training, their potential to impact the delivery of primary care and child health and development in underserved areas across Haiti is tremendous.
We are bringing an evidence-based approach to childhood illness that focuses on both preventive and curative services called Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). This approach has been implemented around the world with great success. IMCI can improve nutritional status; it costs six times less per child than traditional care; and has been found to produce a 13% reduction in child mortality by the third year of implementation. IMCI involves improvements in training and case management at the clinic level as well as training and mobilization of community members for prevention of childhood illness. Combining improvement of clinical services and community empowerment makes this method very effective for saving lives.
This project is building the capacity of Catholic sisters to provide life-saving healthcare to children under 5 and pregnant women. We are: 1) Training and supporting midwives; 2) Implementing a clinic-based and community-based “IMCI” approach to primary care proven to reduce child deaths; 3) Improving clinic management; 4) Developing a nutrition program to complement current health services. As a result, we are building the capacity of Catholic sisters to begin a Ministry of Health-recognized midwife program that utilizes the IMCI approach for diagnosing and treating children, establishing a system to identify and treat severely malnourished children, and improving clinic management.