Engaging Community Leaders to Improve Health

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Chelda is a licensed nurse practitioner who benefitted from USAID-supported professional development and training.
Chelda is a licensed nurse practitioner who benefitted from USAID-supported professional development and training.

As a licensed nurse practitioner of over 25 years, Chelda admits that she was doubtful about what she could learn from USAID-supported training and professional development for doctors, nurses, and midwives. After recurring training sessions became available, she realized that the government had issued new standards of maternal and child care and that knowing and practicing these would help her provide quality care to her patients.

Haiti’s strained health system strives to deliver health services to the population, but a challenge in retaining qualified health professionals means that roughly 40 percent of the population lack access to essential health and nutrition services. Throughout Haiti, there is as few as six health professionals per 10,000 people. The health providers that exist are scattered across and managed by different sectors: the public sector; the private nonprofit sector, made up of non-governmental and religious organizations; the mixed nonprofit sector, whose staff is paid by the government but whose management is private; and the private for-profit sector, comprised of physicians, dentists, nurses, and other specialists who work in urban medical offices or clinics. With a small, fragmented health workforce and limited regulatory capacity in government, ensuring that all health workers consistently meet standards of care is a challenge.

One of the ways USAID addresses this challenge is by partnering with local organizations and community leaders to improve knowledge of and adherence to quality standards of care.

In the last year, USAID supported 32 local Haitian organizations, including community- and faith-based organizations (FBOs), to improve health services in 164 clinics nationwide by enhancing the skills of health professionals related to new evidence-based standards of care. As part of this effort, two FBOs, Milot Sacré Coeur and St. Boniface Foundation, now serve as National Training Centers for health professionals like Chelda to enhance their skills with innovative curricula.

These National Training Centers provide trainings on high-impact reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health interventions for health providers, both public and private, across Haiti. The trainings equip health professionals with the skills and knowledge to integrate high-impact interventions like newborn resuscitation with a bag and mask, management of postpartum bleeding with a balloon tamponade, and insertion and removal of an IUD into their facilities.

In the last year, through a combination of community outreach and trainings to improve the quality of care in facilities, 164 facilities have benefitted from USAID-sponsored trainings, and more importantly, 51,422 women were reached with high-quality antenatal care.

In mixed and fragmented health systems, USAID seeks to partner with diverse actors who have the ability to integrate approaches across the different segments. Identifying organizations, such as religious and community organizations, that are influential in their communities allows USAID to roll out care standards in a more comprehensive way, thus ensuring better population coverage of quality health services to improve the health of the Haitian population now and in the future.


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