Physical Therapy Team to Haiti
Located only a little more than 700 miles from the United States, Haiti is the the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 80% of Haitians live on less than $2/day.
In addition to living in poverty, most Haitians lack access to basic health services. Environmental degradation combined, with a history of civil conflict and the recent earthquake in 2010 have only exacerbated to these issues. This results in poor health outcomes, for example:
- Haiti has the highest rates of infant mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere. Leading causes of death include preventable diseases like respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis HIV/AIDS and diarrhea.
- Only approximately 26% of women deliver their children with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.
- The life expectancy of a Haitian at birth is 61 years, which lags far behind the U.S. expectancy rate of 78.2.
- It has the highest rate of HIV snd AIDS in the Western Hemisphere, with about 5.6% between 15-49 years of age living with the syndrome.
These statistics demonstrate that life in Haiti is difficult for even the average Haitian; it is even more challenging for those with disabilities. Some interesting facts include:
- It is estimated that approximately 10% or 800,000 people were disabled prior to the earthquake.
- USAID-Haiti cites estimates that earthquake related amputations are as high as 4,000.
- Haiti has no national training program for rehabilitation professionals.
- Many Haitians believe that disabilities are brought on by a curse, misdeeds or not obeying a spirit. This leads to isolation and/or abandonment.
The purpose of the Advantage Program is to provide direct services to persons and families/caretakers of persons with permanent or temporary physical disability. This team of volunteers will assist in the fulfilling the mission in the lives of the Haitians they serve by providing direct physical and occupational therapy for those in need of rehabilitation care in southern Haiti.