A hospital that has been effectively improving public health in Haiti for nearly 60 years has received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to support its effort to expand access to reproductive health services and education to more adolescent girls in some of the most rural areas of Haiti, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS), founded in 1956 by Pittsburgh native Dr. Larimer Mellon and his wife Gwen, serves a largely rural population of more than 350,000 people with critical care hospital services and community-based prevention and care in central Haiti. HAS has succeeded in eradicating diseases, such as measles, polio and tetanus, in its service area through its collaboration with communities to educate citizens on the importance of immunizations, good nutrition, clean water and sanitary practices to stay healthy.
HAS offers reproductive health services and education to all women and girls who seek it. Among adolescent girls in Haiti, the unmet need for reproductive health services, including family planning, is as high as 56 percent. With this additional support from the Ford Foundation, HAS will expand access to key sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents in order to better support the health and rights of this vulnerable community. This will help the hospital reach a growing adolescent population, particularly displaced adolescents, and improve the overall health of young people in Haiti.
“The Ford Foundation recognizes the importance of healthcare and access to reproductive health services to advance the developing world,” said HAS Board Chairman John Walton. “HAS is honored to collaborate with this global leader in the effort to reduce poverty and injustice.”
The 131-bed Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti is the only 24/7 full-service hospital serving a population roughly the size of that in the city of Pittsburgh — more than 350,000 people.
It is the only facility within a 610-square-mile area that provides a full range of care, including care for women with high-risk pregnancies, for children with serious illness and malnutrition, for people who need trauma care and surgery, and for those with infectious and non-communicable diseases. The most complicated cases seen in regional clinics and other medical facilities are referred to HAS routinely.
HAS Haiti specializes in caring for infants, children, and mothers. The HAS Department of Pediatrics and pediatric surgery program, made possible in large part through the efforts and support of partner organization the Schweizer Partnerschaft of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (SPHASH), are crucial resources for families throughout Haiti, who turn to HAS for specialized care. Children come to HAS with health conditions other clinics have been unable to diagnose, and for surgeries that other facilities cannot handle.
A neonatal intensive care unit like the one at HAS is almost unheard of in Haiti, as is HAS’s policy to never turn away patients and families in need. The HAS social services program, also supported by Switzerland’s Schweitzer Parnerschaft, ensures that particularly vulnerable patients, especially those from the remote mountain regions, who tend to be the most impoverished, will receive the health care they need.
HAS recently was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to help the hospital raise awareness of its programs, and to help engage additional philanthropic support and strategic partnerships.