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.