Supporting Medical Missions in Haiti

Imagine a world where you can’t access something as simple as Tylenol when you have a headache. For many in Haiti, this is a reality. Imagine now how this inability to meet simple medical needs compounds as medical conditions grow more severe. Wounds go unstitched, high blood pressure goes unchecked, tumors continue to grow.

Practical Compassion’s medical program is overseen by a US medical staff and provides volunteer opportunities for nurses to work alongside us in Haiti. These medical mission opportunities in Haiti consist of holding rural clinics, setting up a traveling pharmacy, and providing vision screening, eyeglasses, and dental exams. We work with Haitian doctors and medical staff during the clinics, and train Haitians to manage and distribute the resources we leave behind.

Medical Care in Remote Places

Our trips include a U.S. doctor, several U.S. nurses, Haitian nurses and a Haitian dentist. American and Haitian medical professionals working side-by-side accomplish the immediate goal of helping sick people and the long-term goal of fostering independence among the Haitian medical community.

To support the goal of follow-up care, we have developed a computer system to keep patient records of treatment and other information. Medical records are virtually unheard of in Haiti’s remote villages but are obviously important for tracking patient needs and progress.

Historically, the Practical Compassion team makes two medical mission trips per year — in May and November. Our goal is to maintain continuity of care by going to the same villages every six months.

The rainy season in May sometimes prevents us from reaching the very remote areas, so we substitute other locations in need. At other times, civil unrest and violence can prevent us from entering the country at all. This instability highlights the importance of our mission to empower Haitians to provide care and offer clinics, even when circumstances don’t allow us to be there as well.

Help for the Cholera Crisis

Haiti’s poor public health and sanitation infrastructure make people extremely vulnerable to waterborne diseases. Any natural disaster that further taxes the already weak infrastructure, such as the earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, increases the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Crowded living conditions, lack of clean water and inadequate sewage disposal coupled with the lack of knowledge about preventative measures perpetuates the spread of cholera, a potentially deadly infection. Symptoms can appear as soon as 12 hours after ingesting contaminated water. Left untreated, the severe dehydration from diarrhea can kill within hours.

Children and undernourished adults have immune systems that are more susceptible to severe symptoms of this infection and need an oral rehydration solution, intravenous fluids and antibiotics to avoid shock and electrolyte imbalance.

Our Role

Practical Compassion’s team of medical professionals is helping Haitians suffering from cholera and educating communities on the benefits of hygiene by washing and cooking foods and taking other preventative measures. Training the Haitian medical professional to recognize early symptoms and begin medical intervention methods is an important part of the Practical Compassion cholera crisis program, as well.

Seven years later, after the 2010 cholera outbreak, an average of 37 people still die from cholera in Haiti every month. Providing adequate toilet facilities and drilling clean wells are additional measures Practical Compassion is taking to help eradicate this devastating disease.

Your donations to Practical Compassion’s medical program will significantly help many Haitians get healthy — and stay healthy.

To support medical missions in Haiti, visit our donation page today.