— Sister Ann Crawley
Starvation Has Now Reached an Unconscionable Level and Creating the Greatest Humanitarian Emergency Since the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.
Prior to the 1980s, Haiti enjoyed a high level of food self-sufficiency. No longer. An influx of US subsidized food in the 1980s and 1990s drove farmers out of business and planted hunger as a fixture on the Haitian landscape. In the past 3 years, changes in climate brought extreme drought cycles broken up with intense storms and hurricanes. Once full and predictable fruit trees are virtually nonexistent. Inflation has risen to 21% and current political unrest has drastically cut short supplies and supply routes. A once underlying condition has overtaken the country and spiked to emergency levels.
According to the World Food Programme, more than 1 in 3 Haitians — 3.7 million — need urgent food assistance. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) predicts 40% of Haiti’s total population will require urgent humanitarian assistance in 2020.
Rob Freishtat, MD, long term CRUDEM medical volunteer and chief of emergency services at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., witnessed 8 patients — all under age 2 — die of hunger during his recent visit to Milot.
When interviewed in December by CNN for a special report on hunger in Haiti, Freishtat said, “Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of kids in Haiti with malnutrition get sick with infections or something else and die. Sad but not unusual. This is the first time that I have seen them literally starve to death.” Freishtat further noted, “The under-2 group of kids is particularly vulnerable because formula is exorbitantly expensive there. Breastfeeding would be great, but the moms are starving too, so their milk dries up.”
Regrettably, experts predict the deaths of these children will be the first of many, with 4 million+ Haitians facing severe food insecurity this year.
These critical and basic public services – food and hospitals – are threatened by continued political and social unrest, triggered by deteriorating economic conditions. Today, Hôpital Sacré Coeur overflows with patients and is moving quickly to expand following the closure of a government hospital just 12 miles away. As one of the region’s main food distribution points, we are also preparing to roll out a food drive in approximately 5 U.S. cities that will help feed this nation in crisis.
In the face of chaos, exploitation, instability, and vulnerability, Hôpital Sacré Coeur will add a new women’s and children’s center, fight malnutrition and starvation among children through a new direct meal program and invest in new technology and equipment to provide advanced surgery options.
No other facility exists with the comprehensive offerings of Hôpital Sacré Coeur, which in 2019 handled over 545,000 patient transactions: 75,000 outpatient visits, nearly 8,000 inpatient admissions, and 7,500 emergency visits; performed about 2,800 surgeries; delivered more than 2,000 newborns; completed over 165,000 diagnostic tests; and filled 285,000 prescriptions. For over three decades, together we have delivered on our promises to the people of Haiti, to provide much needed preventive and emergency healthcare and to feed the most vulnerable.
Your contributions and compassion helped Hôpital Sacré Coeur thrive, expand and set the bar for quality healthcare for decades. You and your support are a key reason why thousands more did not die following the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the ongoing cholera epidemic. Clearly, you value Hôpital Sacré Coeur and the Haitian people. Surely, you of all people can imagine the angst of a mother or father unable to feed their children or help when grave illness or injury strikes. Your compassion and love in action has brought miracle after miracle.
While much has been done to help this impoverished, yet spirited nation regain its infrastructure and the health of thousands of survivors after the devastating 2010 earthquake, much more needs to be done. Especially now.
As St. Francis reminds us: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Every donation — large or small — is cherished and appreciated.
You are needed.
If not you, WHO?
With our deepest gratitude for you!
Harold Prévil, M.D.
CEO, Hôpital Sacré Coeur
Sister Ann Crawley, C.S.J.P.
Hôpital Sacré Coeur Outreach
David G. Butler, M.D.
Chairman and Medical Volunteer
P.S. YOU can make a tremendous difference! You can bring much needed relief today and create a more hope-filled tomorrow for countless Haitians. Please, send your tax-deductible donation by April 30th. Remember: 100% of your donation goes directly to patient care programs.