The ongoing reconstruction work in Haiti has received some bad press lately, namely, the U.S. Red Cross’s abject failure to build an estimated 130,000 homes after the 2010 earthquake. This embarrassing failure and much deserved criticism of the Red Cross hasn’t stopped the W.K. Kellogg’s work in Haiti, an area of the world in which the foundation has had a presence for decades.
The Kellogg Foundation’s grantmaking to Haiti has waxed and waned since the 1950s and in 2006, it seemed that it had all but stopped. After the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, killing over 200,000 people and leaving over 1.5 million homeless, Kellogg reengaged its funding efforts in the country. It began awarding grants related to its major areas of focus including healthy and educated kids, civic engagement, racial equality, and secure families. Its recent $1 million grant to Partners in Health (PIH) doesn’t necessarily fall directly in line with those areas of focus, but it does sort of dance around a few of them.
Partners in Health is a monster global health organization that doesn’t focus on geographic priorities in its work and instead channels its energies toward specific healthcare challenges and diseases like maternal health and HIV/AIDS. PIH operates healthcare facilities including hospitals and clinics in 12 sites across Haiti. PIH will use the $1 million Kellogg grant to work on further improving child and maternal health. To do so, the organization plans to increase healthcare professional training and establish the much needed infrastructure for training and research programs related to strengthening health systems and the implementation of scientific disciplines across the country.
A $1 million grant toward improving Haiti’s healthcare systems—which was dysfunctional even before the quake hit—is a huge deal. After the earthquake hit, the situation became worse with some 60 percent of the existing health systems having been destroyed and 10 percent of the country’s medical staff were either killed or had fled the country.
While a significant amount of progress has been made toward rebuilding Haiti’s health systems, there’s still a ways to go in many areas, one of those being maternal and child health—both of which sit squarely in the Kellogg foundation’s funding wheelhouse. According to USAID, stunting rates in children have decreased and family planning efforts have led to a decrease in the number of births per women of reproductive age. However, the mortality rate of children under five remains high at 88 per 1,000 live births and only 36 percent of women deliver their babies at a health facility.
No one can really predict how long it will take to rebuild Haiti. With a number of natural disasters seemingly occurring one after another, it’s nice to know that funders like Kellogg haven’t forgotten about the ongoing plight of the Haitian people.