The Stream

Is Haiti losing its COVID-19 fight?

On Monday, April 12 at 19:30 GMT:
Haiti’s public health system is battling to control the spread of coronavirus, amid delays in the delivery of vaccines to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

An initial delivery of 756,000 free doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – enough to fully inoculate 378,000 people out of Haiti’s 11 million population – were assigned for delivery to Haiti under the UN-backed Covax effort. But Laure Adrien, the general director of Haiti’s health ministry, recently told the Associated Press that a one-shot inoculation regimen – such as that offered by Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine – is a better fit for Haiti’s overburdened health system.

The latest official figures from Haiti’s health ministry say 252 people in Haiti have died due to COVID-19, with more than 12,700 coronavirus disease cases confirmed. But a lack of widespread testing means that the true number of cases and deaths is likely higher. While Haiti has tested about 57,700 people for coronavirus so far, more than 1.3 million tests have been administered in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

Haitians also face myriad other problems. A simmering constitutional crisis is pitting President Jovenel Moise against opposition politicians who say he is overstaying his term. Protesters have in recent weeks taken to the streets of Port-au-Prince, urging Moise to step down and for the government to provide people with urgently-needed economic and social assistance.

And gang violence is on the rise, with many Haitians too scared to leave their homes. Amid the unrest, a lack of public faith in Haiti’s much-criticised institutions is fuelling vaccine hesitancy, imperilling efforts to inoculate enough people when vaccines do eventually arrive.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how Haitians are faring with the impact of coronavirus while also coping with ongoing instability and violence.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Claude Joseph, @claudejoseph03
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Haiti

Jacqueline Charles, @Jacquiecharles
Caribbean correspondent, Miami Herald

Dr Jean William Pape
Executive Director, GHESKIO/Haitian Global Health Alliance, and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College

Jessica DiPierro Obert, @jessicaobert
Journalist and filmmaker