Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison at the Official Presentation of the Demographic and Health Survey Report

Madame Health Minister,

Ministry of Health team,

International organization partners, and members of the diplomatic corps :

I am pleased to be here with you today for the official launch of the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) results.  This important survey is the result of close collaboration between various stakeholders in the health sector in Haiti:  it was led by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) along with active participation by several key organizations.  I want to take this opportunity to thank the partners that co-financed this activity: UNICEF; the Government of Canada; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, through the Haitian organization of Social Marketing for Health (OHMaSS); and the UN Population Fund.

I would also like note the remarkable work undertaken by the National Laboratory of Public Health; ICF International through the USAID-funded Demographic and Health Surveys (MEASURE DHS); and the Haitian Institute of Children (IHE).

We are proud of our partnership with the Ministry of Health and IHE over the past decade.  This high-quality survey will benefit Haiti’s entire health sector; it offers key insights, and will inform important decisions for the benefit of the people of Haiti.  We are pleased to see that steady progress has been made in improving maternal and child health over the last five years, including significant progress in reducing the infant mortality rate by 23% (compared to 2012) and the total fertility rate of 14% (compared to 2012). Preliminary data also indicate a slight decline in the prevalence of HIV in adults from 2.2% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017.

We know that these impressive health improvements are the result of the hard work and dedication of thousands of health care workers across the country, both in MSPP institutions and in non-governmental institutions. In the face of Haiti’s health challenges, it is very important that the MSPP continue to provide strong leadership and clear guidance to ensure coordination among multiple partners in the sector, as well as to provide high- quality essential services at the facility and community level.

The survey also highlighted the urgent need to improve several areas, notably immunization coverage. As the more detailed presentation later by MSPP colleagues will show, the proportion of children who have received the eight essential vaccines has dropped from 45.2% in 2012 to 41.4% in 2017. This is a cause for concern: immunization services require special attention by the Government and its multilateral and bilateral partners. We applaud the commitment of the Haitian government to finance the purchase of vaccines in the sum of 83 million gourdes ($1.2 million), and we encourage the Haitian government to meet this important goal.

We look forward to continuing to work with the MSPP and other partners on practical ways to strengthen the national health system and protect children in Haiti.  It is also essential that the Haitian government increase domestic funding for the health sector, to ensure that MSPP can continue to provide the human resources to ensure that fragile progress is protected. We hope that the domestic budget for next fiscal year will adequately reflect our shared priorities in the heath sector.

Before I conclude, I would like once again to congratulate the Ministry of Public Health and Population for carrying out this essential survey to measure progress in Haiti’s health sector. The data from the DHS represent a concrete way for all of us to hold ourselves accountable to maximize results with the limited resources available, and to continue to improve our joint results to improve the well-being of the Haitian people. Thank you.