Haitian Children Suffer Disease And Malnourishment Thanks To Gangs

Children malnourished due to gang violence receive care at the Fontaine Hospital Center in Cite Soleil, the biggest slum in Haiti’s gang-infested capital. 

Vaccinations and tests, especially for malnutrition, are provided to 120 and 160 children daily at the community clinic, which has been operating in Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhood for over 30 years. 

Jose Ulysse, the hospital’s director, says that malnutrition may cause youngsters to become emaciated to the point where they have trouble breathing. Patients with less severe conditions are often returned home after treatment, along with food aid for their families.

The sickest children are sent to hospitals, where their moms, many of whom are malnourished themselves, keep vigil over them from tiny beds. Forty to fifty youngsters a day now require nutritional assistance, up from maybe a dozen a day four or five years ago, and they are held until their weight stabilizes.

Unicef said in May that newborn malnutrition has increased by 30% in only one year due to gang violence. Emaciated cheeks, protruding rib cages, swollen abdomens, muscle atrophy, and rickets are only some of the signs of severe malnutrition among the listless youngsters at the Fontaine clinic. Over 115,000 children in Haiti are severely malnourished, making up over one-quarter of the country’s kid population.

The capital city of Haiti is plagued by gang violence that makes it hazardous for residents to go about their daily lives, including working, shopping, and caring for their children. Worryingly, cholera has been on the rise again in Haiti. Parents find it more difficult and dangerous to bring their children to help facilities like the Fontaine clinic due to snipers on rooftops and the threat posed by gang members via rape, abduction, and murder. 

The facility can keep operating partly because of funding from Unicef; some parents bring their children and leave them behind because they cannot care for them.