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Happy Anniversary! PROFAMIL Haiti Celebrates 27 Years
Join us in wishing a very happy birthday to IPPF/WHR Member Association PROFAMIL Haiti! Today, we celebrate the progress the organization has made since its founding 27 years ago, especially its accomplishments since the devastating earthquake in 2010.
As a leader in the field of sexual and reproductive health, PROFAMIL began providing low-cost, quality services in 1984. PROFAMIL operates clinics that provide family planning, early detection of breast and cervical cancer, pre-and-post natal services, youth programs, and voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Port-de-Paix. In rural areas, a network of health promoters and mobile health clinics provide family planning and basic care, which is often the only healthcare available in these remote communities.
The accessible and affordable services PROFAMIL provides are absolutely essential for Haitians, but the organization’s success has never come easily.
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of Haiti’s population lives below the poverty line. Fewer than half of all births are attended by a skilled health professional, and infant and maternal mortality rates are the highest in the region. To make matters worse, the rate of HIV/AIDS infections in Haiti is the second highest in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite these challenges, PROFAMIL has persevered for 27 years and has been able to improve and expand its services, but two years ago the organization faced its most demanding battle to date.
The 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in January of 2010 killed 300,000 people and left millions more homeless. Today, around 600,000 Haitians remain homeless or live in tent cities, where inadequate or nonexistent lighting, bathrooms without locks, and inadequate police protection all contribute to greater rates of sexual violence and exploitation of women and girls. The destruction has left 750,000 women of reproductive age in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and 15,000 in the city of Jacmel with limited access to their usual methods of family planning.
PROFAMIL has become a source of support not only for sexual and reproductive health services but also assistance for women and girls who have been victims of gender-based violence. Through the use of mobile health units and field clinics, PROFAMIL has created safe spaces for young women who are living in tent cities to find social and emotional support. These facilities also provide access to critical sexual and reproductive health services, such as the distribution of emergency contraception, rape kits, and medications for sexually transmitted infections. In June, the organization opened new facilities made of prefabricated structures that are more durable than the tents it used previously. The medical teams continue to expand PROFAMIL’s work in coordination with other emergency aid in order to best reach and support people who have been displaced.
Congratulations, PROFAMIL, on an amazing 27 years of providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and for stepping up in the face of adversity.