The primary healthcare system plays a crucial role in maintaining the public health in any country. It fulfills a multitude of tasks including prevention and control of diseases as well as increasing the health literacy.
Role of the PHC System in Haiti
The central role of the primary healthcare remains the same from country to country. According to the Alma Ata Declaration, adopted in 1978 by the WHO the key task of the primary healthcare is to provide every person in the world with access to diagnostic assistance and treatment in their communities. Haiti is the country with low literacy rate and widespread superstitions. Most of the rural population still turn to voodoo priests for medical help. It also lacks a proper sanitation system in most rural areas which means increased rate of disease spread. Another issue the country faces is the proliferation of the infectious diseases like HIV and TB, which presents an especially acute problem in rural areas. In such environment, the focus of the primary healthcare shifts to educating the population on the basic medical facts as well as observing and controlling the spread of HIV and TB. Another important PHC task in all developing countries is the reduction of child mortality. The works in this field include immunization, promotion of exclusive breast-feeding, and oral rehydration therapy. Increasing the coverage of the primary healthcare is also an important task (Macinko, Starfield & Erinosho, 2009).
Role of the PHC Workers in Haiti
Primary healthcare workers are the most crucial part of achieving those tasks. In Haiti, there is an acute shortage of medical workforce. That means the primary healthcare workers carry the full burden of providing the necessary services in the rural areas. The workers themselves focus on attaining positive outcomes which they can personally perceive (Jerome & Ivers, 2010). They play an important role in rural communities which have no access to other forms of healthcare. The local populations still harbor beliefs in voodoo practices and other forms of traditional medicine. Convincing people to use the primary healthcare system is an important part of the work. That is usually achieved by demonstrating the effectiveness of medical procedures.
Educating the population on the commonplace medical practices is also crucial as it helps disease prevention and allows people to carry out some basic medical procedures by themselves. The community nurses promote exclusive breastfeeding and help with medical procedures for the chronic patients. Another key task is collecting samples from TB and HIV patients for diagnostic. The HIV rates in Haiti are high and keeping the situation under control is a large part of a medical worker’s job. With the lack of the qualified medical personnel, the HIV care falls almost exclusively to the community nurses (Ivers et al. 2011). Carrying out basic treatment for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes is also an important task under any circumstances, although they are less of a focus, with other more pressing issues plaguing the Haiti countryside.
The role of the primary healthcare system is to provide as many people as possible with the medical services within their communities. The system is key to preventing the spread of infectious diseases and reducing the child mortality rates. In countries like Haiti with limited governmental healthcare systems and poor health literacy among the population, PHC workers bear the burden of both caring for and educating the people around them.
Ivers, L., Jerome, J., Cullen, K., Lambert, W., Celletti, F., & Samb, B. (2011). Task-Shifting in HIV Care: A Case Study of Nurse-Centered Community-Based Care in Rural Haiti. Plos ONE, 6(5), e19276.
Jerome, G., & Ivers, L. (2010). Community health workers in health systems strengthening: a qualitative evaluation from rural Haiti. AIDS, 24(Suppl 1), S67-S72.
Macinko, J., Starfield, B., & Erinosho, T. (2009). The Impact of Primary Healthcare on Population Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Journal Of Ambulatory Care Management, 32(2), 150-171.