The long history of socio-political turmoil in Haiti has had a negative impact on the health care system. The 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 further destroyed this already fragile structure. Another major earthquake hit the country in 2021, weakening an already undermined health system and creating increased mental health challenges.
The pandemic has exacerbated mental health needs in Haiti. General anxiety and concerns related to the coronavirus and its impact were installed. Haiti saw a rise in the cost of mental health services and medication, while many hospitals that used to treat mental health patients were now at full capacity or became testing facilities for COVID-19. Fatigued health providers and medical staff also suffered from increased rates of depression.
Implementation and Achievements
The needs assessment and resource mapping exercise in Haiti covered three departments of the Big South Region: South, Nippes and Grande Anse. In each of these departments, an activity coordinator supported the Ministry of Health during the COVID-19 response. Department-level mental health coordinators from the Ministry of Health, working in close collaboration with PAHO coordinators, were instrumental in carrying out the needs assessment and resource mapping, as well as in developing the project implementation plan. The goal of the project was to promote effective use of the Technical Working Group platform to support actors in sharing information, optimizing interventions and aligning their strategies.
Capacity building efforts on mhGAP for primary health providers and Primary First Aid for community health workers were implemented and a total of 728 community health workers from 103 health care centers covering a total population of 1.300,135 people received training across the districts of South, Nippes and Grande Anse.
The mhGAP training was led by the National Director for Mental Health. A total of 42 people received training, of whom 21 were doctors and 21 were nurses among 23 females and 19 males. The training covered 23 health centers in the South, Southeast, Nippes, and Grande Anse departments. Trainers used an adapted version of the mhGAP-IG manual that includes elements of the humanitarian mhGAP version.
In addition of creating mental health services, and to increase awareness and reduce stigma related to mental health conditions, a communications campaign was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health representatives and actors of the MHPSS Technical Working Group.