Haiti – Information and prevention against COVID-19

01 April 2020

(ANS - Port-au-Prince) - With 16 registered cases, Covid-19 has arrived in Haiti, too. Although the numbers are very limited for the moment, the fear is tangible, especially due to the structural weaknesses the country has been subject to for years. The Rinaldi Foundation, the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Haiti, has thus immediately set to work to start prevention and information operations against possible infections.

Haiti, the country among the poorest on the American continent, addresses the health emergency of coronavirus with very few resources. In fact, Haiti lives in a permanent health emergency, because there is no de facto national health system. The real health centers are the clinics of NGOs and the Church.

Since 19 March, the President has declared a state of health emergency throughout the country, issuing the classic prevention measures against the COVID-19 epidemic, including the closure of schools and churches, a ban on rallies, limitations on travel, and encouraging hygiene and public health practices… But most of the population cannot afford these measures: “There is no clean water anywhere to wash your hands as required, there is no electricity in the houses and there are not even hospitals. Many people live on the streets, so it is very difficult to remain closed somewhere," reported a Redemptorist missionary to the agency Fides.

As soon as the news of the virus's arrival was heard, an emergency meeting was convened with the Rinaldi Foundation, with all participants keeping their social distance, and taking extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of personnel. The Foundation also contacted all the communities to motivate and raise awareness of how to deal with the situation, with operational suggestions, indications for the placement of water distribution points in the works, good practices for community life ...

At the same time, an awareness-raising campaign was launched through the Foundation's Facebook page: the messages are simple with explanatory images and Creole-language texts, the language that every Haitian speaks and understands very well.

Buckets of chlorinated water are placed in all Salesian communities so that the few visitors can wash their hands thoroughly. In some places, there is also a container at the main entrance of the communities so passersby may wash their hands, with messages that invite citizens to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

“Around us we see people who were already living in suffering, with a large majority of people who need to go out every day to earn their daily bread. Now asking this majority to stay home to avoid spreading the virus will expose them to another challenge, that of finding food. Some are beginning to think that some people may die not from coronavirus, but from hunger. For this reason we are evaluating if it will be possible to find the means to distribute not only sanitary kits (masks, gloves, soaps, disinfectants, chlorine, alcohol ...), but also food kits (rice, beans, spaghetti, oil, milk ... ),” says the Rinaldi Foundation spokespersons.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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