Heart to Heart International’s Newest Initiative in Haiti: Market Women’s Clinic

Throughout history and around the world, women in developing countries have been turning to the informal economy to survive in an environment of high unemployment. Haiti is the third poorest country in the world, and the majority of its economy activities take place within the informal sector, comprised mostly of vendors reselling goods.

In Pétion-ville, a town outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, there are more than 40 open-air markets, ranging in size from hundreds to thousands of women selling goods. Typically, the women vendors in these markets carry the burden providing food and education for their families on their meager earnings. This requires them to work 6 to 7 days each week, often for 12 hours a day. They can’t afford not to work, and they can’t afford the costs of medical visits.

In February 2018, Heart to Heart International – Haiti (HHI) opened the doors to its newest initiative in Haiti: a Market Women’s Clinic. By establishing this clinic, HHI is bringing medical services to where they are needed. Patients of this clinic receive comprehensive care (including point-of-care laboratory testing) for chronic diseases, general medical needs and wound care all for roughly $1 USD per person. No patient is turned away, and pharmaceuticals are free. Costs are minimal to ensure accessibility, and the clinic is no more than ten minutes walking distance from the farthest patient’s stall.

“This clinic is offering health care to many of these women for the first time in their lives,” Julie Wahl, HHI Program Manager, said. “With the clinic’s emphasis on chronic diseases, we’re able to offer life-saving care to these women and their families.”

Thanks to partnership with the local government, who have provided in-kind donations of buildings and space for this program, as well as gift-in-kind medications and support from generous donors – especially Becton Dickinson (BD) and Medtronic Foundation – HHI has successfully delivered this health program for more than one year.

In January 2019, volunteers from BD provided additional training for the market clinic clinicians, community health workers and laboratory technicians, and a volunteer BD construction team improved the physical structure of the clinic and installed a toilet block for vendors to use during their long days of work.

Four community health workers deploy into the marketplace to offer daily patient support to the vendors. This has enabled 1470 market vendors to receive routine training, education and/or support for self-management of illness and chronic conditions; 100 percent compliance with referrals made by clinic staff to external health facilities; and a reduction in patient wait time from 4 hours to 1.5 hours.

Currently, the clinic has more than 5,000 patients registered for care (more than 75 percent are women over the age of 15); averages between 50 and 70 consultations per day; and has reached a 98 percent rate of compliance with follow-up appointments. 

The improvement of the health and lives of these women and their families helps fulfill HHI’s mission of strengthening communities through improving health access around the world.