Friday, May 1, 2009

New Medical Help for the Border

The Batay Relief Alliance has announced a new medical initiave for the Border region here.

This project is run by one of the many talented Haitians in the Haitian Diaspora. Ullrich Gaillard is an attorney, a cellest, and the force behind this organization which has delivered millions of dollars of medical aid and hosted countless medical missions to the Haitian population inside the Dominican Republic.

Last year, his organization received permission from the Haitian government to take over the clinic in Anse A Pitres, on the tip of the Southern border. Now, it appears, he will be able to cover the entire border.

One of the most pressing issues on the border has been the estimated 10,000 Haitian women who cross over the border into the Dominican Republic to give birth. The basic reason for this is that there are only medical facilities on the border in the central region, in Belledare. There is only a small, empty red cross station in Ounaminthe, and the heretofore empty clinic in Anse A Pitres. The southern region is particularly stripped of any medical services or personnel with perhaps two doctors covering the entire region between Jacmel and Anse A Pitres.

Many Dominicans rightly resent this use of their public medical facilities. Many believe that these women cross over so that their children will have Dominican citizenship. This has been a hotly contested international issue. The Dominican government has been exceedingly generous with the use of its public facilities, transporting Haitians from the border even to the Capital for treatment, which is a seven hour trip.

With the opening of more clinics on the border, the pressure on the Dominican State will be much relieved.

It will be wonderdul to have more help from the Batay Relief Alliance on the border. They have built a state of the art clinic in Monte Plata, serving a large Haitian and Doinican community there who live in areas where the sugar companies have closed but the population remains.

What would be wonderful would be a plant to produce the vitamin enriched peanut butter for use in malnourished children. This has been a major life saving product in Africa In Haiti, one small NGO, is producing it under the name of Medika Mamba. It has been used in Africa with great results, under the name of plumpy nut

Since the Famine Alert Network reports that there are areas even on the border which are facing food insecurity, and snce malnutrition in the first two years can produce permanent brain damage, enriched peanut butter would be a perfect business for the Border.

Peanut butter is one of Haiti's traditional breakfast foods along with eggs. However, because of a boycott of Dominican egg imports due to an H5N2 outbreak two years ago, Haitians have been deprived of a primary source of protein.

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