Hope for sick children
St. Damien Hospital provides high-quality medical treatment for disadvantaged and sick children in Haiti. In 2020 it treated over 73,000 patients. It’s the only hospital in Haiti offering cancer treatment for children.
Children dying from treatable diseases
NPH founder, Father William Wasson, together with Father Rick Frechette, originally set up a children’s home, but soon realized that there was a pressing need also to help the large number of children dying from treatable diseases. They had established a hospice in Petionville, near Port-au-Prince, but found that increasingly children could be restored to good health. So the hospice became a hospital. Then in 2006, the current, purpose-built St. Damien Hospital was opened in Tabarre.
- 138,000 children die of preventable diseases every year.
- 1 in 4 children is moderately to severely malnourished.
- Haiti has the highest rate of infant, under-5 and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere.
Most patients arrive malnourished
More than half of all patients are admitted for an infectious disease such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV while 25 percent are admitted for non-infectious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney infection. Most patients admitted are also malnourished.
The outpatient clinic treats 100 children daily, for acute, parasitic, and bacterial infections.
3 top priorities at St. Damien Hospital
Offering good maternal care
Treatment for chronic conditions
In specialised clinics, chronic conditions such as sickle cell anaemia, congenital heart diseases, tuberculosis and cancer are treated for months or years if needed. NPH St. Damien Hospital and associated public health and community programmes provide over 70,000 services to children and adults annually.
Facilities and programmes at St. Damien Hospital
St. Damien Hospital has 224 beds, including:
- 20-bed emergency unit
- 10-bed paediatric intensive care unit
- 17-bed cancer unit
Additionally it offers the following facilities and programmes:
- Paediatric oncology/ haematology centre
- High-risk maternity ward
- Malnutrition unit
- Neonatology department
- HIV programme
- Tuberculosis programme
- Paediatric residency programme
- 24-hour-a-day laboratory
- Dental clinic
- CLIMEDI – clinic to screen candidates for US immigration
St. Damien Hospital impact in 2020
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and continuing enormous economic and social challenges in Haiti, St. Damien Hospital remained a major factor in child and maternal healthcare.
- 69 new cases of children with cancer treated
- 1,789 HIV/AIDS programme consultations
- 25,000 vaccinations as part of the public health programme
- 2,621 babies delivered
- 348 children suffering from malnutrition admitted
- 132 new cases of children with tuberculosis treated
- 565 local people employed
Two of our Life Savers
Together with NPH founder Father Wasson, Father Rick Frechette set up St. Damien Hospital. He received his medical degree in 1998, and in 2012 won the Opus Prize for his work in Haiti. Father Rick is a lead advisor to NPH in Haiti.
Dr Pascale Gassant is National Director of St. Damien Hospital and Kay St. Germaine, 2 programmes run by NPH Haiti. She previously led the development of the St. Damien oncology unit.
International Paediatrics conference
In 2017 St. Damien Hospital organized its first international paediatrics conference to celebrate the International Day of Nurses.
In 2019, the second conference was held, with 210 attendees from Haiti, and also the United States, Italy, Mexico and Spain. It focused on the continuous improvement of healthcare services, especially where resources are limited.
Residency programme and associations with other hospitals
A residency programme started in September 2013 to improve the quality of paediatric care in Haiti, where there is an estimated 1 doctor for every 15,000 people, and where the most vulnerable are children. St. Damien Hospital runs this programme in affiliation with the Catholic medical school Université Notre Dame d’Haiti and the hospital Bernard Mevs.
By 2018, 12 paediatricians had graduated, and a third group of 6 new paediatricians received their degree in September 2019.
Integration and recognition of St. Damien health programmes
All St. Damien Hospital health and education programmes in Haiti are integrated into the country’s national health programmes and are recognized by local and international authorities, including:
- Saint Alphonsus Medical Center
- Bambino Gesù Ospedale Pediatrico
- Project Medishare
- United Nations
- Harvard Medical School
- St. Joseph Health St. Jude Medical Center
- University of Notre Dame
- Action Medeor
- Société Haïtienne de Pédiatrie
- Republic of Haiti, Ministry of Health
- Hopital Bernard Mevs
The big picture about healthcare in Haiti
If you are in any doubt about the gravity of the situation in Haiti, take a look at what some of our peer organizations are saying:
- UNICEF explain partly what they have achieved but also the challenges that remain in Haiti. See also their key indicators on child health, survival and protection in Haiti.
- USAID’s overview of their work in Haiti also gives a measure of the tasks that remain to be addressed.
- The Borgen Project give their top 5 facts about healthcare in Haiti.
- The World Health Organisation also provide key statistics and updates on the situation in Haiti.
Will you join the Life Savers?
It takes donations from thousands of people like you to keep St. Damien Hospital delivering healthcare to people who otherwise would not receive it. We’ll make every donation count.