It’s been more than four years since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the island country of Haiti. These four years have seen great devastation, but they have also seen great progress. Just look at the fight against HIV/AIDS.
We at PEPFAR (The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) are proud of the role we have played in the U.S. government’s efforts to empower Haiti to rebuild following the earthquake. This year, Haiti reached an historic milestone in its HIV/AIDS response by achieving universal access to treatment. This means that 80 percent of those estimated to need antiretroviral treatment (ART) are receiving it. This achievement is in addition to improvements in Haiti’s overall infrastructure, security, and access to healthcare and education.
PEPFAR has been active in Haiti’s HIV/AIDS efforts since the program’s inception in 2003. Spanning the last ten years, with a clear vision, PEPFAR partnered with the Government of Haiti, as well as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to successfully implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment program. As a result of the PEPFAR program’s long-established partnership with the Haitian Government, when the earthquake struck on January 12, 2010, a PEPFAR-supported infrastructure and resources were in place to form the foundation of the U.S. Government’s capacity to mount a rapid and broad health response. PEPFAR’s ability to immediately mobilize partners and resources played a pivotal role in both the emergency response and the many months of reconstruction of health sector capabilities.
PEPFAR continues to strongly support the US Government’s Haiti Strategy, working to build a strong responsive health sector and a strong Ministry of Health. The 2012-2017 Partnership Framework (PF) for Health, signed by the Prime Minister and former PEPFAR Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, builds on PEPFAR’s program, expanding the focus on health issues beyond HIV and related diseases, and integrating with other development programs supported by the U.S.Government.
PEPFAR’s broad and comprehensive response saw impressive results in 2013:
- 52,000 individuals receiving antiretroviral treatment, including over 18,000 newly enrolled in 2013 alone;
- Over 1 million people (about 10% of the population of Haiti) benefited from counseling and testing;
- 5,000 HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral prophylaxis for prevention of mother-to-child transmission and 77% of HIV-exposed newborns tested for HIV in the first 12 months;
- 14,024 undernourished HIV positive patients (adults and children) received food support;
- 100% of HIV patients receiving care were screened for TB.
PEPFAR also saw marked results in its efforts to expand access for Haitians’ to healthcare services, including the availability of testing outside of urban, central locations with linkages to care. PEPFAR has adopted a “one-stop-shop” strategy, in which HIV patients receive a basic package of other health services (nutrition counseling, routine check-ups, TB screening) at the same location. Furthermore, 129 facilities received support to deliver HIV treatment (an increase of 45% from 2012) and a network of facilities specializing in an HIV test for infants was expanded to 40 additional sites, helping to identify pediatric patients earlier and immediately provide them with lifesaving care. PEPFAR’s emphasis on improving health and HIV/AIDS care for Haitians at large has also contributed to improved supply chain management and diagnostics throughout the country, reinforcing the foundation of the Haitian health system.
A decrease in infection, a marked increase in access to healthcare for Haitians country-wide, and impressive results across PEPFAR’s projects are propelling Haiti towards the global goal of an AIDS-free generation. As President Obama said in his meeting with President Martelly earlier this year, “… we’ve begun to see progress. The economy is growing; security is improving; infrastructure is getting rebuilt rubble has been removed; health facilities are beginning to open up; schools are starting to get back into place, and businesses are starting to return to Haiti.”
That’s good news we can all celebrate.
About the Author: Julia Martin serves as Deputy U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.