31 March 2020 - 15 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Haiti so far, and this number is expected to increase soon. The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic will have terrible consequences in Haiti: there are currently less than 200 beds available in intensive care, while the country counts 11 million people. Should the virus spread, the Haitian healthcare system will rapidly reach saturation point. Poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding in slums and urban areas and the reliance on the majority of the population on the informal economy to survive will make the implementation of effective confinement measures difficult.
ACTED Haiti took immediate measures to prevent the spread of the virus – including social distancing and hand disinfection. The teams disseminate the most up-to-date information on the virus and on prevention and self-protection measures, especially for the people most at risk, i.e. the elderly and the chronically ill who make up a large number of ACTED’s current beneficiaries.
ACTED keeps implementing its regular programmes, providing safe access to water, food security and a safe environment to vulnerable households, while taking all necessary measures to protect beneficiaries from exposure to the virus. For example, activities involving more than 10 people have been adapted, and ACTED now favors home visits rather than meetings. All activities have been adapted to ensure that social distancing measures can be respected, while the teams are increasing the promotion of best hygiene practices. Immediately after confirmation of the first case of Covid-19, ACTED set up hand washing stations in gathering areas using hundreds of buckets. In coordination with the Health and WASH Clusters, ACTED, through its local Mobile Emergency Intervention teams (EMIRA) is already adapting the surveillance, investigation and response protocols (dating from the cholera outbreak) and will dispatch 15 rapid response teams in the Central Department, bordering the Dominican Republic.
These initial measures urgently need to be supplemented in order to increase preparedness and response capacities in Haiti. ACTED is planning a major scale-up of its Covid-19 activities to this end in the weeks and months to come.