Remote Area Medical did not travel to Haiti in 2020. The year started with a climate of unrest that made it unsafe to travel to the region. One year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic was in the early stages around the world, and knowledge of the future and how widespread this would become was very limited. Travel restrictions and new guidelines were being put into place on a daily basis, and weeks of limitations turned into months.
These same travel restrictions remain in place around the world, even now, that prevent RAM and our very dedicated volunteers from returning to Haiti. Before the pandemic, our volunteers and staff had great success seeing medical and dental patients and were expanding to give vision services as well as delivering much-needed school supplies to the community.
We have not lost sight of the desired outcomes and goals for this program - early detection of disease, efficient treatment, and an increased range of services in remote areas of the country. Our dedicated volunteers and staff remain committed to RAM’s mission to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality healthcare to those in need.
Your gifts will allow RAM to continue the reach of the mission and we are grateful for the support our program has received in this time of global crisis.
The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that around 80% of Haiti’s population live below the poverty line. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, most rural areas have no access to health care, making residents susceptible to otherwise treatable diseases. With the continuing COVID-19 crisis, Remote Area Medical has been unable to travel to Haiti in 2020. As we look forward into 2021, our goal is to return to Haiti as soon as possible to provide free medical and dental services to those in need.
Terri, one of our RAM volunteers, is a registered nurse who has traveled to Haiti multiple times to assist at our free clinics. On her last trip to Haiti, she was screening a patient at the triage table. With the assistance of a translator, she asked the patient the last time she had seen a doctor. The woman looked surprised and responded, “You are my doctors.” The only time she sees a physician is when RAM has a clinic in her area. This statement truly struck Terri and gave her a range of different emotions: gratitude for being able to come to Haiti on the RAM team, responsibility to provide the best care she could as so many people would not be able to see any doctor until RAM returned, and joy for how happy the patient was to see her, at the same time as feeling sadness at the economic disparity between Haiti and almost anywhere else.
At the same clinic in 2019, one patient was a young mother with a high fever whose jaw was terribly swollen on one side. It took a collaboration between the physician and dentist to diagnose her salivary gland infection. She came back to the clinic every day for antibiotic injections, and by the third day, her fever broke and they were able to drain her infection. If that infection was left untreated, she could have very serious complications and continue to suffer. Our team at Remote Area Medical is looking toward 2021, hopeful that we will be able to return to Haiti as soon as possible and continue to help these patients. With your support, we will be able to increase the number of patients we can see and the number of lives that can be changed.
As 2020 continues to present challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the RAM team has unfortunately had to cancel the planned September expedition to Haiti. While it may take a little longer before travel is permitted, Remote Area Medical remains committed to the mission of providing free, quality dental and medical care to the people in need in Haiti.
Since 1995, RAM and its volunteers have provided care on the island nation of Haiti. Knowing that millions of people in Haiti lack access to affordable healthcare, housing, education, and stable employment, and that even more lack access to routine dental care, with merely 300 dentists in the entire country, it is critical that RAM’s semi-annual pop-up clinics continue. These free clinics directly improve the health and lives of thousands of Haitians each year.
Even with the current uncertainty of when the next clinics will take place, RAM will continue to plan and identify needs for the Haiti program. Your continuing support is needed more than ever to help ensure that this vital and life-saving program continues as long as the need exists.
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