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Responding to COVID-19: A Challenge for the ACOSME Project in Haiti

The ACOSME project has been helping the Haiti Northern Health Department (DSN) contend with the pandemic from the start of the health crisis.

Launched in 2016 by the USI-CECI consortium, the Project in Support of the Mother-Child Continuum (ACOSME) adjusted its support to the Northern Health Department (DSN) in March 2020 to assist the department in responding to the Coronavirus epidemic. While ensuring the same activities and interventions planned as part of the original project, ACOSME has actively assisted DSN in rolling out the COVID-19 epidemic response plan of the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Haiti (MSPP). ACOSME’s support for the DSN’s response plan corresponds with its commitment to strengthening the healthcare system and improving its governance.

These are the actions ACOSME has taken so far:

Reinforcement of the Healthcare System and Improvement of its Governance

  • Support for the creation and operation of the COVID-19 Departmental Technical Committee
  • Support for the establishment of the Committee for the Epidemiological Surveillance and Monitoring of activities to combat COVID-19 (CSESA-COVID19).
  • Support for the production of statistical data on COVID 19.
  • Production of 12 weekly epidemiological reports.
  • Establishing coordination with the North-East Health Department, bordering the Dominican Republic, to ensure a collaborative and consistent approach, while promoting information sharing on the migrant population.
  • Training of 107 institution-based service providers.
  • Training of 22 multipurpose community healthcare workers (ASCPs).
  • Training of 45 members of the Women’s committee of health care services users  (CFUs).

Material and Technical Support

  • Start-up of 2 new health centres treating Level 1 patients.
  • Support for 4 Level 2 treatment centres.
  • Supply of protective and decontamination materials to health centres to increase service provider safety and security.
  • Placement of 22 handwashing devices in supported healthcare institutions, as well as the Hôpital universitaire Justinien.
  • Training ASCPs and CFUs about COVID-19 and barrier measures.
  • Fast-tracked drilling of boreholes and drinking water wells in 4 water-poor regions.
  • Logistical support to the DSN in transporting Covid-19 specimens from the North Department to the Quebec Public Health Laboratory in Port-au-Prince.
  • Identification, reorganization and adaptation of 24 treatment sites.

Awareness Enhancement and Support to the Public

  • Reproduction and distribution of 20,000 leaflets and posters designed by the MSPP to boost awareness about and prevention of COVID-19.
  • Production of 9 radio broadcasts.
  • 15 mother and child health supervisory visits to ensure maintenance of these services during the pandemic.
  • Creation of laundry washing areas and construction of two laundries to facilitate housewives’ tasks in the towns of Bahon and Bord de mer de Limonade.
  • Support to 15 women’s committees in manufacturing free handwashing devices.

In a testimonial sent to the ACOSME Project team last May, DSN Director Dr. Ernst Robert Jasmin highlighted the importance of the work that has been done.

Dr. Ernst Robert Jasmin, Direction départementale de santé du Nord‘’In March 2020, the Northern Health Department (DSN) asked its technical and financial partners to support it in the different phases of responding to COVID-19.

The ACOSME Project was one of the first to answer this appeal. The North Department Bureau of the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Haiti, which I head as department director, has benefitted from the effective support from and excellent collaboration with the Project in Support of the Mother-Child Continuum (ACOSME). This support has from the start, and in particular during this crisis, been of crucial importance to the Northern Health Department  .

ACOSME’s support has indeed met the DSN’s expectations in strategic, institutional and community (prevention, awareness enhancement, technical support to the statistical team, sampling and epidemiological monitoring) terms, as well as with respect to its COVID-19 response.

''The entire DSN team values ACOSME’s support and we look forward to working together in other sectors of the North Department.''

ACOSME is also providing vital support to the DSN in coordinating the COVID-19 Departmental Technical Committee, which meets in the project’s facilities with the following groups: :

  • Senior management of the Department Direction.
  • Representatives of leading hospitals (Hôpital Universitaire Justinien [HUJ], Hôpital Sacré cœur de Milot, Hôpital de la Convention Baptiste d’Haïti [HCBH], Hôpital St Jean de Limbé and Hôpital Bienfaisance de Milot).
  • The community.
  • The DSN’s technical and financial partners (Projet ACOSME, Projet Santé and Handicap International).

The entire DSN team values ACOSME’s support and we look forward to working together in other sectors of the North Department.’’

Dr. Ernst Robert Jasmin, Northern Health Department Director (DSN), May 2020

The ACOSME Project has been made possible through the financial support of the Government of Canada, provided through Global Affairs Canada.

Photo credits: Georges Harry Rouzier