Assassination of Haitian President plunges country into turmoil

The Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his residence in the early hours of Wednesday 7 July 2021. His wife Martine Moïse suffered serious wounds and is receiving treatment at a hospital in Miami. The Haitian people are in a state of shock and anxiety. In recent months they have also endured violent protests, increased gang activity and kidnappings, soaring inflation and a growing number of COVID-19 cases.

NPH Haiti’s ambulance driving past a road blockade
(Photo: Ralph Tedy Erol)

A country where children are already suffering

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas with more than 60% of its population living in poverty. The country has suffered from decades of political and economic crises as well as several natural disasters. According to Unicef, severe acute malnutrition is expected to more than double this year amid the pandemic, rising crime and low resources. More than 86,000 children under the age of five could be affected, compared to 41,000 in 2020. Unicef also says that acute malnutrition, which is a less dangerous category than severe acute malnutrition, increased 61% last year, affecting 134,000 children under the age of five. This number could rise to about 217,000 this year.

The country also saw a sharp decline in child immunisation rates last year, fuelled in part by the disruption of health services because of the pandemic. Diphtheria cases have risen as a result. Unicef has warned that unvaccinated children are also more likely to suffer and die from malnutrition.

NPH Haiti: a safe haven for vulnerable children

NPH Haiti is family to almost 900 vulnerable children, young people and adults who live in safe and loving family-style homes. A further 2,500 children benefit from the school scholarship programme. Education, healthcare, nutrition and special needs programmes transform many young Haitian lives.

Children enjoying learning at school
Children learning at an NPH Haiti community school

In the aftermath of the assassination, Kenson Kaas, NPH Haiti National Director, has confirmed that everyone is safe and secure. Caregivers are working longer hours to maintain the calm. Children in community programmes have been advised to stay at home. NPH community schools remain closed for the moment.

St. Damien Hospital continues to provide vital healthcare

St. Damien Paediatric Hospital provides life-saving, accessible healthcare to thousands of Haitians each year. It is the leading paediatric hospital in the country and the only one that treats childhood cancer. In 2020, St. Damien provided over 73,000 services and treatments to thousands of vulnerable children. Over 2,600 mothers had their babies at the specialist maternity unit for high-risk pregnancies.

A mother feeding her newborn baby with a syringe on a neonatal ward
A mother feeding her baby on the neonatal ward at St. Damien Paediatric Hospital

Doctor Jacqueline Gautier, the hospital’s director, says, “the crisis committee at the hospital is monitoring closely the situation in order to keep the essential services functional for the children and mothers. Of course, everyone is very worried and we don’t know what is going to happen.”

Uncertainty, insecurity and rising prices

“There is also a shortage of fuel in Haiti which has caused prices to skyrocket. This may continue since the insecurity created by the gang activities in the South Capital neighbourhoods is hampering the transportation from the port. We need fuel for our ambulances and to run the hospital. Without it, we have serious problems to serve our population and treat patients.”

You can help

Your donation will make a real difference in a time of crisis. Please support the people of Haiti who need our help now more than ever. Give to St. Damien Paediatric Hospital.