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Partners for better health in Haiti

01 Jul 2011

A nurse examines an older patient at a public health centreOlder people in Haiti now have better access to health care and medical treatment thanks to an agreement signed between HelpAge and three public health centres to provide free services.

"This is my first visit here and I was pleasantly surprised when they explained to me that, because of my age, I will not pay a cent," said Victor Mercy, 74, who we met at public health centre in Croix des Bouquets, a town near Port-au-Prince.

"I came here to get treated for a wound that hurts my back. And as the care is completely free thanks to HelpAge, I intend to make the most of it."

Free healthcare for the over 55s

Following the agreement signed in January 2011, three public health centres in earthquake affected areas are now providing patients aged 55 and over with free primary care.

"These institutions have even set up a dedicated queue for older people," Dr. Luc Mésadieu Herby, Head of Health at HelpAge International Haiti told us. "As older people arrive, members of the nursing staff take care of them. High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems and diabetes are the most common medical cases among these patients."

Treatment, consultations, medication and tests in the three healthcare facilities are completely free for older people. This is a great relief for Eliphète Justin, 71, who often visits the public health centre in Croix des Bouquets.

"I really appreciate this initiative"

"I am a regular here," she explains. "I do not even know how many times I have come here to consult a doctor or have tests taken. My whole body hurts and I can't move my fingers properly. Three years ago, at the request of my children, I stopped working as a street vendor. I really appreciate this initiative."

Eliphète lives in a house in Duval Roche, which still bears the cracks from the January 2010 earthquake. She lives with her son, daughter and six grandchildren.

"We will all live together. Fortunately, we did not lose too much after 12 January. I also realised that after this event, my blood sugar started to become unstable. Today, I came to the health centre because my neck makes me suffer horribly. I really appreciate the patience of Nurse Soulouque."

Helping thousands of older people affected by the earthquake

HelpAge International Haiti already runs several health programmes. We support various nursing homes and hospitals, and have helped thousands of older people in the 12 districts affected by the earthquake. 

Working on the ground, HelpAge staff are backed up by "Friends", or home-based carers. They are a team of volunteers, recruited from displaced people in the camps, who are trained to supervise and monitor the wellbeing of older people living in the camps.

Our work has also included providing free eye consultations, reading glasses, psychosocial programmes - to help older people overcome the trauma caused by the earthquake - and assistance from a team of nurses.

Find out more about our work helping older people recover from the Haiti earthquake

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Author profile

Claudel Victor
Country: Haiti
Job title: Communications Officer

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.