Spring 2015 Newsletter - - Facebook - Donate


415 people attended the Haiti Happening Dinner & Silent auction at Michelangelo’s on February 28th. 184 items … Haitian art, local art, and services from area businesses elicited lively bidding in support of Maternal & Child Health at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. One lucky attendee won a flight for two to anywhere Westjet flies. Highlights included four perspectives from women who had been to HAS. Robin Ehlert began with an engaging poem titled, “Our Skin”. Among the memorable references was ‘optimistic and hopeful skin’. Wesmine Joseph, born in Haiti, described the time when her four year old sister was literally ‘saved’ by HAS staff. Dr. Rani Tolten spoke about the new patient navigation system that helps to guide illiterate mountain dwelling patients more efficiently through the hospital system. Renee Geske related her ‘eureka’ experience at HAS in 2012. ‘Looking through the lens of Renee’ and viewing a couple of solar panels on a hospital building, Renee imagined rooftops full of solar panels, a product that her company, Celestica, happened to manufacture. This past year 800 solar panels were installed at the hospital, realizing Renee’s dream. Louis Martin, hospital CEO, in presenting Celestica representatives with a plaque thanking them for their donation, said that the panels would save six figures in fuel costs and cut the carbon emissions by more than 50%. The evening finished with Brad Berquist, chairman of CFHAS, thanking the speakers, attendees and Hilda Reinauer-Stark and her committee who organized the event.

By Dave Mckay

We may be planning a gala event at a Niagara winery this summer but we would love to hear an interest from you!

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Recently we received at Canadian Friends of HAS, the report that is delivered to us on an annual basis, from HAS’s Administration office in Pittsburgh. This comes to CFHAS in fulfillment of the agreement which we enact each year in association with our annual grant to HAS, which is specifically directed to Maternal & Child Health and for the past several years has been in the amount of $100,000 USD.

The 5½-page report was written by Lenora Vesio, Director of Development at HAS. What follows below, with her permission, is a synopsis prepared by Mick Stewart, CFHAS President.


The importance of Maternal and Child health-focused programs at HAS

Research has demonstrated conclusively that the health of women and children is the cornerstone of public health, which is why Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS) invests so heavily in maternal, newborn and paedriatric care. HAS is making significant progress in improving health outcomes for women, children and families in Haiti thanks to consistent and generous support from Canadian Friends of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (CFHAS).

At HAS, reproductive and maternal health services link closely with each other and with newborn and child health services. This strategy aligns with a global movement to integrate such services. Haiti currently has unacceptably high rates of maternal, infant and under-5 mortality. Within this scenario, HAS provides the only 24/7 full-service hospital in the Lower Artibonite Valley, serving its client population though the main hospital campus, the four community health centres and 70-80 mobile clinics plus hundreds of health posts conducted each month.

Matrones, Post-partum Care and Birthing Centres - Matrones are Haiti’s traditional birthing attendants, now part of the HAS strategy for assisted deliveries. HAS trained 27 new matrones in 2014, bringing the total to 300 trained by HAS. Community health workers completed 93% of home visits within 2 days of delivery (in 2013, 87%). HAS plans also, to build birthing centres to accommodate women with normal pregnancies, thereby allowing the hospital to retain its focus on high-risk pregnancies and obstetric complications.

Preventative Medicine – In 2014, nutrition screening reached 96% of the children in the HAS service area; and distribution of Vitamin A supplements to lactating mothers & young children were up significantly (44% & 15% respectively). Early screening and interventions at clinics, allow children to recover more swiftly from, and avoid medical complications of, malnutrition. Admissions for malnutrition in 2014 were down 7% compared to 2013. Regrettably, fewer children received immunizations than in 2013, primarily due to reduced supply from the Health Ministry (the only regulated provider of vaccines in Haiti)

Progress and Innovation at HAS Haiti – In 2014, HAS improved its infrastructure in several important areas ---

A new, expanded maternity unit which will assist the hospital to address the rise in demand.

Installation of wireless technology which will enable sharing of patient data between clinics and the main hospital; mothers and children are anticipated to be the primary beneficiaries.

A solar power system donated by Canadian company Celestica as a direct result of a visit to HAS by a Canadian Friends’ workteam will reduce the hospital’s carbon footprint and also reduce energy costs significantly.

A more sophisticated inventory management system will cut waste, and inventory costs.


Thank you, Canadian Friends of HAS! – The support, advocacy and influence of CFHAS helps HAS to save lives and improve health outcomes for women, children and families in the Lower Artibonite Valley of Haiti. Thank you for committing to this effort for the long haul.




Top Five Threats to Child Health in Haiti

March 18, 2015
Dr. Maurice Toussaint

Dr. Maurice Toussaint, HAS Head of Pediatric Services

Children and those who care for them are Haiti’s future, which is why we at HAS focus heavily on optimizing women’s and children’s health.

In Haiti,  top threats to child health include diarrheal disease, malaria, acute respiratory infections, road traffic accidents, and malnutrition. Here’s what we’re doing about them:

  1. Diarrheal diseases
    These illnesses, often caused by water-borne microbes, are dangerous because they can lead to many other conditions that can be fatal.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea kills about 760,000 children under five each year worldwide, and is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five years old. Conditions leading to diarrhea, such as viral gastroenteritis, are common diagnoses among HAS pediatric patients, and can lead to dire complications if left untreated.
  2. Malaria
    The majority of malaria-related deaths are due to complications from lack of early treatment — and unfortunately, many children in Haiti come to the hospital with undiagnosed, advanced malarial disease. HAS is collaborating with the Haitian Ministry of Health in its efforts to eradicate malaria in Haiti by 2020. HAS considers malaria to be a possible diagnosis in every case where fever is a symptom, and we routinely rule it out with lab tests as needed before moving on to other possible diagnoses.
  3. Acute respiratory infections
    Worldwide, pneumonia is responsible for about one-fifth of the estimated 10.6 million deaths every year of children under five.  Acute respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis are by far the most common pediatrics diagnoses at HAS.  We use every measure possible to address this problem.  We immunize children against vaccine-preventable diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, and the measles.  Through our network of community health workers, we screen for acute respiratory infections in an effort to diagnose them early and refer them to the hospital if needed for treatment.  HAS community health workers also teach parents and other caregivers about signs, symptoms, and treatment.
  4. Road Traffic Accidents
    More and more children at HAS are requiring surgery because of injuries incurred in road traffic accidents, which are becoming more frequent in Haiti and other parts of the developing world as roads improve.  Road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds worldwide.  This is important because children differ physically, psychologically, and physiologically from adults, and therefore need special care to recover fully.  HAS is responding to this increased demand for pediatric surgical care to the best of its ability with additional permanent and volunteer staff support, renovations that will expand the hospital’s triage and observation unit, and work to educate patients and community members about road safety.
  5. Malnutrition
    This highly complex problem can be caused by a variety of things including lack of access to highly nutritious foods, poor infant feeding practices, and conditions like diarrheal diseases. Severe cases of malnutrition can be fatal.  HAS works to prevent malnutrition and its complications through community-based screening and education programs.  HAS screens an average of 10,000 children per month for malnutrition, and refers those exhibiting signs of malnutrition for treatment at one of our six community nutrition posts or to the hospital if there are medical complications.  HAS community health workers also conduct education sessions for mothers covering the health benefits of breastfeeding and how to combine foods to ensure that children are properly nourished.  About 700 children per year are treated for malnutrition through our life-saving inpatient program, which also includes parent or caregiver education.

By Dr. Maurice Toussaint
HAS Head of Pediatrics Service

Copyright © 2015 Canadian Friends of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer - Haiti, All rights reserved.

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