The corona virus pandemic continues to cause havoc across the globe with rising numbers of daily new infections and deaths in almost every corner of the earth. Here in Haiti, the first death resulting from the pandemic was recorded on Sunday, April 5, 2020. According to the Ministry of Health, the victim was a 55-year-old male with underlying conditions of blood pressure and diabetes. A 14-year-old who also showed symptoms of the corona virus also expired last week in Marchand-Dessalines in the Artibonite department. While the health authorities decided to follow protocol not reveal the name and residence of the victim, social media was ablaze with a suggestion of the victim as former government official from Petit Goave and recently a member of the Ministry of Justice. Contacted, the head of the Port-au-Prince bar association, Monferrier Dorval, stated that the victim has tested negative for the virus. As of today, there have been 25 cases reported by the public health authorities across the country, while the authorities and health officials asked the population to respect social distancing and other hygienic measures proposed to slow the rapid spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the President of the national federation of Mayors, Jude Édouard Pierre is calling on the government to designate the office of emergency management, le secrétariat permanent pour la gestion des risques et désastres (SPGRD) and the ministry of interior, la Direction de la Protection Civile (DPC) to jointly manage the corona virus pandemic in the country, while the Ministry of health will also be involved managing the sanitary aspect of fighting the pandemic. According to the mayor of Carrefour, this cooperation is necessary because the gravity of the pandemic which is no longer a public health issue but a multidimensional crisis which requires the different aspects such as the economic, social and humanitarian to be addressed in a holistic way. The mayor said that he is not satisfied with the national response so far to the Covid 19 disease and anticipates the designation of a czar to coordinate efforts at attacking the virus. As a protective measure, the Mayor of Petion-ville, Dominique St. Roc decreed that as of Tuesday, April 7, 2020, all private transportation operators, commonly known as tap tap, will not carry more than eight (8) passengers when plying the route to and from different communities. Mr. St Roc proceeded to ask residents who are traveling to and from the area to wear masks, while all open-air markets in the commune will operate on three days only; notable Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays, while merchants who sell their wares on the sidewalks are discouraged from doing so. As another important step in the fight against expansion of the virus city hall decided to launch a street cleaning campaign, where every two hours in the afternoon, the fire brigade will spray the streets to sterilize public spaces. And to help undertake this public health initiative, the Mayor called on the Justice department and the national police to join them and help them to realize the project.
It appears the mayor of Pétion-ville is not the only one with sanitation on his mind. The Moïse/Jouthe administration is also working to launch a nationwide cleaning and sanitation campaign. The program which was launched this past Saturday and expected to go to May 4, 2020 is an effort of the government to contain the corona virus. The program is a joint ministerial effort between such ministries as Public Health, Environment, Interior and sanitation among others, to remove debris, disinfect public places and distributing hygiene packs to the people. During the entire campaign, there will be trucks deployed in the south, north and the metropolitan area to help in the efforts to sanitize the country. One of the coordinators of the project, Édouard Laurole made it known that the entire project will be transparent, and the contingency plan drawn up to clean and sanitize the nation will be respected, and funds dedicated to the project will be justly utilized.
And while talking about funds, the Board of Directors of the World Bank has approved a US20m grant to support Haiti’s efforts at fighting Covid-19, according to a communique from the international financing body, where it stated that the funds are directed to respond to the menace that the corona virus pandemic is, by helping capacity development at the national laboratory and taking care of patients diagnosed with the corona virus. According to Anabela Abreu, country director at the Bank, the Bank is working in conjunction with Haitian government and foreign donors to effectively address the threat that the new pandemic posed to the nation, and to prepare the health services to diagnose and treat patients of this highly infectious disease. The program dubbed “Haïti : Réponse au COVID-19” is aimed at reducing the threat of the pandemic on the island, noting that it presents a major risk to the country, by early detection, controlling infections in the health centers and the availability of good care for patients who contract the virus. It also aims to improve on testing, identifying patients in order to reduce the propagation of the virus by confirmed cases. Funding for this project was provided as a gift from the International Development Association (IDA) as part of its new fast-track financing approved by the Bank to help countries around the world cope with the current pandemic.
Finally, it has been 20 years since the former manager of Radio Haïti Inter, Jean Léopold Dominique, and his body guard, Jean-Claude Louissaint, were assassinated in the premises of the radio station and yet two decades later, there have been no investigation into the assassination. The human rights organization, Réseau national de défense des droits humains (RNDDH) laments the fact that the dossier on this case has been blocked at the supreme court and the Appeals court, while within the past 20 years, from April 2000 to date, 17 judges took turns to examine the case. After two decades, the families have yet to see justice. According the Director of the human rights group, Pierre Espérance., as part of this assassination, there have been executions, arrests, releases and more murders. The murderers responsible for these acts are very powerful and enjoy complete impunity in the country so they don’t care. The total impunity explains why up until now, the investigations are not going anywhere, despite the efforts of the victims’ families and numerous human rights organizations.