[Port-au-Prince] – Entrepreneurs in rural Haiti are taking action to end malnutrition in their communities, with the support of USAID and Fondasyon Kole Zepòl (Fonkoze) through the Aksyon Kominotè nan Sante pou Ogmante Nitrisyon (AKSYON or Community Health Action to Improve Nutrition) Program. This year alone, the Program has screened nearly 75,000 children for malnutrition in all of Haiti’s ten Departments, including 138 communes, 591 communal sections, and 5,285 localities.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison noted, “The AKSYON program not only helps fight and prevent malnutrition throughout Haiti. It also creates opportunities for the community health entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses while making a difference in their neighborhoods.”
AKSYON is a 5-year, 14 million dollar program implemented by Fondasyon Kole Zepòl (Fonkoze) starting in August 2016. AKSYON works through FONKOZE’s nation-wide network of community health stores called Boutik Sante to bring reliable, affordable, life-saving health products, information, and services to rural Haiti. AKSYON enables Fonkoze and USAID, through the Boutik Sante Program, to deepen malnutrition interventions.
FONKOZE’s Boutik Sante recruits and trains clients from their microfinance credit centers Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze to become Community Health Entrepreneurs, offering local leaders a chance to get into business for themselves. Community Health Entrepreneurs are trained by registered nurses to deliver health education sessions within their community. They also become Boutik Sante franchisees, buying over-the-counter health products from Fonkoze Foundation at affordable wholesale prices, and reselling them in their communities, making a range of high-quality health products available in rural areas.
Through the USAID-funded AKSYON program, FONKOZE’s 1368 Community Health Entrepreneurs have become the front-line heroes battling malnutrition nationwide in Haiti’s most remote areas. They now conduct malnutrition screening campaigns in their communities and with support from registered nurses identify cases of malnutrition and refer them to nearby facilities for treatment. Subsequently, Community Health Entrepreneurs and nurses conduct three months of follow-up visits to make sure the children remain healthy and strong. Through the USAID AKSYON program, they also sell other health products that promote health and nutrition such as antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, iodized salt, moringa powder, vegetable seeds, oral rehydration salt, and water purification tablets, among others.
Carinne is a Community Health Entrepreneur operating her boutik sante in the Croix-des-Bouquet Area. Selling over-the-counter health products and providing health services such as malnutrition screenings to her community brings her joy. “Assisting the people of the village is second nature to me,” she explains. Carinne operates her boutik sante (community health store) from her home which allows her the flexibility to run her clothing business on the side.
USAID Mission Director Chris Cushing says: “Good nutrition is key to children’s development so they can live healthy and productive lives. USAID’s maternal and child nutrition programs in Haiti and around the world save lives, help children grow into strong, productive citizens, and assist countries to progress beyond the need for foreign assistance.”
For more information about Fonkoze, please visit: https://www.fonkoze.org