HAITI - Awareness raising, at the heart of the COVID-19 response

A text from Maguil Gouja

Like many countries, Haiti has not been spared by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many feared the worst because of the already worrying situation of the Haitian health system and the living conditions of the vast majority of the population, now having to face a disease still poorly understood and without a vaccine. However, the Haitian authorities quickly adopted a series of measures, as soon as the first positive cases were identified in mid-March: closure of borders, schools, shops, declaration of health emergency, mandatory usage of masks, social distancing, restrictions during assembly, containment, etc. They also set up a national response plan and called on their partners to contribute. It is with this in mind that the CCISD team mobilized the resources of the PRISMA 2 project - after the quick approval of our donors (Global Affairs Canada and the One Drop Foundation) - to establish a specific action plan in response to the crisis, in line with the national plan.

Several members of our team have joined the committees set up in the Artibonite department to coordinate collective action. Four components have been developed:

  • Training: To better guide healthcare providers, including maintenance staff, and multi-skilled community health workers (ASCP)
  • Awareness raising: To develop tools (posters, murals, music videos, etc.) used to raise awareness and mobilize the population in the face of the pandemic
  • Site management: Responsible for quarantine and isolation sites.
  • Governance: Responsible for coordinating interventions.

The awareness component mobilized most of the resources and efforts. This was to encourage the adoption of behaviors that prevent the transmission of COVID-19, through social art for behavior change (an approach advocated by the One Drop Foundation). Emphasis has been placed, among other things, on one of the main barrier gestures: hand washing with soap, at the level of health institutions and within communities. To achieve this, several original activities were set up and mobilized local artists: radio broadcasts to reach as many people as possible, for example a radio program on hygiene ("ti koze sou lijièn": talk-show on hygiene); audio advertisement, musicals and video clips for social media, in public spaces and in the waiting rooms of health institutions; 26 murals were produced on the walls of health institutions and in the communities with messages of prevention and promotion of barrier gestures (hand washing with soap and water, wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.). Health institutions were also supplied with water and equipment (containers and buckets, soaps, chlorine, etc.) and personal protective equipment (masks, boots, gowns, gloves, etc.).

The state of health emergency has been lifted in Haiti and the situation is currently considered to be under control. Despite this progress, we remain alert and the actions of the PRISMA 2 project, particularly in the area of water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH), continue as part of its anual plan.