What’s your “Health Literacy”? It’s the understanding you use whenever you have a new ache or pain. You take what you know about anatomy, add information you glean from doctors and other sources, follow the instructions on medicine bottles, then pursue a wise course of action. The population in vulnerable places like Haiti is often lacking the vital information that is commonly acquired in schools, through regular doctor visits and through public health initiatives in more developed countries. This deficit in understandable medical information contributes to a vast array of problems. In fact, the World Health Organization, estimates that as many as 70% of illnesses are preventable, and thus Health Literacy has been targeted as one of their worldwide initiatives.
Bless Back noticed early in our ministry that many of our patients had a lack of basic medical knowledge and were suffering from common conditions that could have been easily avoided. We had the resources to diagnose and treat, but we wondered if education could be the more effective solution. Starting in 2014, we began organizing and hosting health education fairs, starting first with women, then adding special sessions for men and students. In all, over 2000 Haitians and have benefited from classes, demonstrations and activities geared toward health and wellness. An excess of 70 different topics, along with corresponding take-home literature, have been taught. Each year, the charge to the participants is this- “You are now the teacher…go home and share what you’ve learned with your family and friends.” Our full-time medical staff continues this initiative on a daily basis, utilizing the materials created for the health fairs with individual patients who visit the clinic.
Our prayer is that the growth in health knowledge will spread throughout communities to bring about stronger bodies and families.
One of our Women’s Health Fair participants wrote,
“This conference brought so much knowledge and important information, especially for me. I am very young and living in a country that is facing a lot of difficulties. I would have to pay a lot of money to find the information that was freely given in this seminar and this information was very useful to me…I can’t find the words to express my gratitude for these teachings that have changed my life. Now, because of the doctors, nurses and other lecturers, this seminar is reaching my family and my school through me.”
Lovezie Sarafina Baptichon