Health & Education

Health

Health in Haiti is a serious concern. With over 80% of the population living below the poverty line adequate nutrition, sanitation, and healthcare are luxuries. In 2006, the Haitian government only spent about $30 (US) per capita on healthcare. To put this in perspective, the same year the US government spent over $3,000. To compound this problem, less than half of Haitians have consistent access to clean water and less than 20% have access to sanitation. As a result, typhoid fever swept through Haiti in 2003 and tuberculosis remains a problem. Only a quarter of births are attended by a healthcare professional making the infant mortality rate 6%—the highest in the Americas. Haiti also has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS outside of Africa. 120,000 people (2.2%) are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Health education continues to be a problem—less than 30% of the population in the 15-24 age group understands how to prevent HIV. On a positive note, the incidence of HIV/AIDS has decreased by almost 75% in the last decade.

Education

A free, public education is not widely available to the children of Haiti, leaving half the country illiterate. 90% of education in Haiti is privatized because the government schools are underfunded and poorly run. There is little accountability and teachers often go weeks or months without a paycheck. Parents (who are surviving on $2 a day) must scrape together tuition and school fees in order to provide an education for their children. Often parents will have to choose which of their children will be able to attend school or students will miss months out of the school year because of an inability to pay.

Only about 65% of primary-aged children are enrolled in school and only 35% complete their primary education. Even though 35% could move on, only 20% of the population attends secondary school and even fewer finish. Education in Haiti is like many other things in life—you get what you pay for. There is next to no accountability or regulation of curriculum so of the Haitians that do complete their schooling, only a small percentage have received an education that prepared them to pass their exit exams. Of those few that complete their schooling and go on to graduate from college, only 20% remain in (or return to) Haiti. This abandonment by educated Haitians only perpetuates the problem of Haiti’s education system.