By Jean Hervé Charles
The Chinese government during the month of January 2023 has abolished all restrictions concerning COVID; that decision gives me the incentive to look into the Haitian COVID policy. The Chinese abrupt change of policy in dealing with COVID gives solace to the fact that the island nation has been practicing the same new policy by default and in fact have earned the coveted prize of one of the nation that best handle the epidemic.
COVID 19 may have been initiated from a lab in China where pathogens elements escaped inadvertently in the air causing illness and death to a biblical proportion the world over. China imposed a zero policy on its people and on foreigners entering into the country.
That policy was enforced with rigor for three years until December 2022 when riot and demonstration by the people force the Chinese government to change its policy and let the citizens handle their own lives.
In Haiti a strict policy was also imposed, but the people of Haiti with no confidence in, and no respect for its government pays no attention to the government directives. The masks were worn only in the Catholic Churches, in the banks and in the communication companies like Digicel and Natcom.
On the streets, in open markets, in their daily dealings the Haitian people reject the port of masks, and act like if life is on a normal state. If one fell sick the therapy is usually a bitter tea with a concoction of leaves with ginger.
While the epidemic caused ravage in the Dominican Republic, Haiti was spared the worst of COVID 19 accusing only 254 deaths per million; the health experts have predicted 20.000 deaths. The number in most countries were 3000 deaths per million. What is the reason of such disparity in fatality that is the topic of this essay?
The health infrastructure in Haiti is abysmal to say the least, the hospitals in Mirebalais the one in Milot the one in Fond des Blancs and the one on Pont Sondé are the four health facilities where the patient can expect to receive a modicum of care when facing a sickness. As such, the Haitian people have developed the habit of self caring at home with different leaves for particular ailments.
COVID 19 has found an inhospitable terrain in Haiti; the houses have open ventilation with a public occupied to deal with bigger problems such as poverty, political instability, corruption, gangs and kidnappings. In a nation where the citizen struggles with a daily subsistence of 2$ a day and the stigmatization against COVID seen as a western disease one can understand that the epidemic find hostility in Haiti where it cannot flourish. Given that COVID strikes first the old, the obese, and the persons with diabetes and high blood pressure with particular intensity, in Haiti the range of age of the population is around 24 years old as such with a privileged immunity COVID has avoided Haiti.
In the mean time COVID has devastated the western world, in Spain, the cadavers were piled up like stacks, in Elmhurst, New York the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States the forty feet container morgues were lining like in a produce wholesaler depot. Million if not billions of dollars were spent to mitigate the damages. Business and school were closed with negative consequences for the future.
Some countries like Sweden and Singapore did have a mixed policy of letting COVID spread at will with mixed results. But in the end, the Haitian policy of treating COVID like a bad cold, or Chikungunya has produced the best results. The hospitals were not crowded, the schools were opened and people vacated to their occupation as in the ordinary for practical reason. They have no other choices; the work of the day is all they have to live upon.
I am expecting the AMHE the Haitian Medical Association Abroad to engage into conducting a comprehensive study, with the collaboration of a major university like Columbia or John Hopkins University to delve into the phenomena of why Haiti the poorest country in the hemisphere arrive to the lowest deaths rate in the world.
It would be a great service to the gallant people of Haiti that defied the world order of slavery and of despotism, in showing the world how to face an epidemic without spending billions of dollars in mitigating the losses and in health care management.