BRIEFING PAPER ON HAITI'S DETERIORATING HEALTH CONDITIONS IN WAKE OF US-LED FINANCIAL EMBARGO
THE UNITED STATES RESISTS HUMANITARIAN CALLS TO RELEASE AID AND LOANS PROMISED FOR HAITI'S HEALTH SERVICES AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS
"There are too many needs in Haiti going unaddressed and we should not be holding up any funds. We are putting politics and process above the needs of the Haitian people." Andrew Cuomo, February 20, 2002 on a recent visit to Haiti where he toured the maternity ward of the ailing State General Hospital
At the urging of the United States, funds to the government of Haiti are being withheld by the United States, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In early 2001, the government of Haiti met all the conditions for the approval of the IDB loans, which are for health and accompanying development, including satisfying all arrears owed to the IDB. The IDB subsequently approved the loans to Haiti and were ready to disperse the funds when the US caused them to be halted ( i ). Although the IDB acknowledges that this situation is unprecedented, the government of Haiti is being penalized with a charge of $79,000 per month in credit commissions to the IDB on loans, which have yet to be disbursed.
The first phase of the IDB loans is to address quality and access to healthcare through targeted tasks such as construction of low-cost community health centers, training of personnel, purchase of basic materials, providing of healthcare services to 2 million Haitians (25% of population), including pre-natal, post-natal care, primary dental care, treatment of contagious diseases. The ultimate objective is to reduce the high infant mortality rate, reduce the high juvenile death rate, and reduce the birth rate ( ii ).
Current Status of Healthcare in Haiti:
With the current financial sanctions taking a toll on Haitians and the delivery of healthcare, the original statistics cited in 1998 with the signing of the loan agreements between the IDB and the government of Haiti pale when compared with today's realities as follows ( iii ):
· Child mortality rose from 74 deaths per 1,000 to 80;