Brazilian Ministry Concludes Plan to Rebuild the Health System in Haiti

By Dialogo
January 28, 2010

Brasilia - A total of R$ 135 million ($75 million dollars) will be used to send ten Rapid-Care Units (UPAs) and fifty Mobile Urgent Care Service (SAMU) ambulances, besides the building of Family Health teams and support for the Child’s Pastoral. The Health Ministry of Brazil has presented its aid plan for rebuilding Haiti’s health system. Ten Rapid-Care Units will be built in the country, and fifty Mobile Urgent Care Service ambulances will be sent to provide urgent and emergency care. The project also foresees the organization of basic health care, with a capacity to provide care for around 80% of health problems. For this purpose, consultants will create a local Family Health model. Finally, the action is intended to increase support for the Child’s Pastoral in Haiti. Between initial investment and upkeep costs, R$ 135 million will be spent. These measures are part of the Brazilian relief strategy for the country. In the health sector, the first phase is to rescue people. The provision of temporary health services will follow, with field hospitals and activities to prevent and control the spread of contagious diseases, which is a medium-term step. Once the field hospitals have been deactivated, the Rapid-Care Units will step in as part of the rebuilding of the country’s health system, a medium to long-term task. “This plan is part of the Brazilian effort to rebuild Haiti. After the first shock, there is a need to create structures that will ensure continued care for the population. Relief action in the health area has this focus,” the Health Minister, José Gomes Temporão, affirms. The action plan also foresees the support of teams of health professionals for immediate assistance to the population, temporary health services, and activities to prevent and control the spread of contagious diseases, averaging thirty professionals per month. The Rapid-Care Units will be sent from Brazil in prefabricated pieces. The modules will be transported by ship and assembled in Haiti by Brazilian personnel. The cost for the ten units will be R$ 50 million. Another R$ 60 million will be used to pay for the health professionals who will work in these units. The Rapid-Care Units will be type 3, with the capacity to see up to 450 patients each per day, with up to 20 beds. Each unit will have pediatric, medical, dental, and orthopedic clinics, besides a clinical laboratory and facilities for X-rays, casts, sutures, medication, and vaporizers. The Rapid-Care Units in Brazil handle on site more than 99% of the cases in which medical care is sought by the population. The remainder are sent to hospitals. For urgent cases, fifty Mobile Urgent Care Service ambulances will be donated to Haiti. They will be equipped with mobile ICU (Intensive Care Unit) equipment. This service will be a tool for integration among primary-care clinics, Rapid-Care Units, and hospitals. The total cost is R$ 10 million. The plan also foresees care for the most common medical problems, as well as health promotion and measures for disease prevention. For this purpose, consultants will create a local Family Health program. About 80% of health problems can be solved on the basis of the provision of basic medical care, unclogging urgent and emergency services. Each Family Health team is made up of one doctor, one nurse, one nursing assistant, and five or six community health workers. The group’s mission is to provide basic accompaniment to the population, which involves care, recovery, rehabilitation, and health maintenance in the community. Finally, the Ministry of Health foresees an increase of R$ 3.5 million in funds for the Child’s Pastoral, founded in the 1980s by Zilda Arns Neumann, with the goal of enabling this organization to carry on its work in Haiti. Since 1985 the Ministry has been one of the largest sponsors and one of the main technical supports of the Pastoral, a partnership that has been reflected throughout these years in the reduction of infant and child mortality in the country. Zilda Arns was promoting the organization’s activity in the country when the earthquake occurred. The Ministry of Health has already sent two tons of medicine and strategic supplies for pharmaceutical care to Haiti. The material is enough to care for ten thousand people for a period of three months. Another two tons will be sent in the next week. The shipment includes anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, anti-hypertensives, diuretics, analgesics, drugs to combat skin conditions, and oral rehydration salts, besides syringes, gloves, bandages, and sodium hypochlorite to treat potable water, among other items. Sending civilian health professionals is also under consideration. The provision of Brazilian aid follows the priorities set by the Ministry of Defense, in accordance with the deliberations of the President’s Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI/PR). In all, more than 3,500 professionals are registered on the list of volunteers available at the Health Portal (www.saude.gov.br).
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