Children are our future. They will grow to be our future leaders and innovators. For these reasons, our children need to be healthy so they can have a chance at a bright future.
Unfortunately, thousands of children worldwide lack the necessary nutrients to grow and lead healthy lives. While children’s health is a worldwide concern, children in developing countries struggle significantly more than children in wealthier countries. According to the World Health Organization, 51 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five worldwide. But in Haiti (one of the poorest countries) 165 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five. Preventable conditions such as malnutrition, respiratory infection, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and diarrhea are responsible for more than half of under-five deaths. Many infants do not even stand a chance as they are born with vitamin deficiencies and birth defects because their mothers are malnourished during pregnancy.
Fortunately, there are people working non-stop to improve children’s health in Haiti.
Some of these people are part of Samaritan’s Purse and ACDI/VOCA, two international groups that work to improve the health and nutrition of children in Haiti. Samaritan’s Purse operates a free clinic in Cite Soleil and are opening a free antenatal clinic in Trouchouchou, Petit Goave. They see over 200 children each week at the Cite Soleil Clinic treating burns, illnesses, wounds, and malnutrition. Samaritan’s Purse also prevents the spread of intestinal worms by making albendazole available to all children in need. International Action’s role at these clinics is small but important. They provide much of the albendazole needed to help the children that come to these clinics.
Children need more than treatment of illnesses and ailments to lead healthy lives. They need to have enough food and the right nutrients to develop healthily.
ACDI/VOCA works with the Bureau de Nutrition et Development (BND) to coordinate a very effective mother and child focused nutrition program. The nutrition program is part of a larger food security program funded by USAID.
The ACDI/VOCA food security program has three focuses: (1) the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, (2) the improvement of the health and nutrition of women and children, and (3) the development of a disaster early warning system for food security.
To improve the health of children and mothers, ACDI/VOCA, through community health rally posts, is providing health and nutrition education, growth monitoring and promotion, training and supportive supervision to government health care providers and targeted food rations to pregnant and lactating women and children. Along with the aforementioned services, supplements are being provided to ensure children and mothers have the nutrients they need to be strong and healthy. International Action has aided ACDI/VOCA in this effort by providing their Southeast health rally posts with vitamin A. Vitamin A helps strengthen immune systems and prevents blindness.
The program has helped thousands of children and women. A total of 12,589 children and 4,371 pregnant and lactating women now lead healthier lives because of the nutrition program.
Thanks to groups like Samaritan’s Purse, ACDI/VOCA, and International Action, children in Haiti can grow up healthier and more prepared for their future.