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Nutrition Program

History: Although Hope for Haiti began with a focus in education, Founder and President JoAnne Kuehner joined forces in 1997 with Dr. Keith Hussey, a gastroenterologist, to incorporate nutrition and healthcare into the organization's initiatives. Hope for Haiti quickly discovered that providing support for nutrition and healthcare is absolutely critical to promoting educational success. Educating children cannot succeed when they and their parents have no access to quality medical care or if they are suffering from severe malnutrition. Today, Hope for Haiti touches the lives of over 500,000 men, women, and children by providing financial and medical support to over 60 healthcare and nutrition centers. Medications and healthcare materials are distributed annually. In 2009-2010 alone Hope for Haiti distributed more than $50 million in medical supplies to locations in need.

Objective: To reduce and prevent instances of malnutrition in children under the age of five.

Why invest in medical nutrition programs for children under the age of five?

The most critical time in any child's development is before the age of five. In Haiti, malnutrition and dehydration, two easily treatable and preventable conditions, lead to an exceptionally high infant mortality rate in children of this age. The overwhelming poverty and lack of sanitation leaves many babies and young children prone to suffering and, in many cases, early death. If a malnourished child does survive, the duration of illness can damage his or her brain functioning, immune system, and overall physical/mental wellbeing for years to come. Treating cases of malnutrition early is therefore critical not only to a child's survival, but also to their overall growth and development.

Hope for Haiti has seen how medical nutrition programs can quickly transform a lifeless child suffering from malnutrition into an energetic, playful boy or girl. For this reason,  Hope for Haiti supports medical nutrition programs and healthcare facilities with financial resources, medications and medical supplies, vitamins, and food aid. In line with our ideology of partnership, we combat malnutrition through local institutions that provide nutrition support and medical treatment to suffering children in an effort to reduce infant mortality. These facilities also provide educational seminars for parents on how to better care for their children and prevent recurring symptoms.

In the regions where these programs are located, staff members have seen a substantial reduction in cases of malnutrition, meaning that more infants are staying healthy, more children are going to school, and more families are learning about proper nutrition and healthcare methods to keep their loved ones well.

What specifically does Hope for Haiti do to support nutrition programs?

This year, Hope for Haiti is working with three nutrition clinics and providing medications and supplies to over 60 healthcare outreach centers. The nutrition clinics, two in the south and one in Port-au-Prince, are run by incredibly dedicated congregations of Sisters. Each program operates similarly: mothers bring severely malnourished children to the centers, often with the referral of community health workers. Children are in the program for anywhere between one and nine months, during which time they are closely monitored and provided with food and medications. Follow-up is provided to the children and the mothers, and education courses are given to the caregivers to help prevent relapse.

Thanks to our partnership with Vitamin Angels, Hope for Haiti has been able to expand its Nutrition Program to include prenatal vitamins for mothers and Vitamin A boosters for children 5 and under. During this vulnerable stage of development, Vitamin A can improve children's overall immune function and reduce the incidence of infant mortality. Mothers at these sites are given high-quality prenatal vitamins before, during, and after their pregnancies, keeping their children healthier and giving them a better chance of survival from the start.

How can you help make a difference?
  • Monetary Donations: All donations made for nutrition go directly to saving a child's life.
  • Medications & Healthcare Supplies: Please contact us if you have potential methods of procuring quality medications and healthcare supplies.
  • Medical Specialists: If you are a medical professional who specializes in pediatrics, orthopedics, dentistry, ophthalmology, surgery, etc... and would be interested in volunteering your time, please contact our office.

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