Haiti remains one of the only countries in the Western Hemisphere with endemic
Iodine deficiency and the parasitic disease, Lymphatic Filiarisis.
Through a partnership with the Notre Dame Haiti Program, St. Joseph’s Clinic has sold a medication-fortified
brand of iodized salt to protect against these two conditions since 2009. However, in years past, due to difficulties in finding
a cost-efficient means of transporting salt to Thomassique, the Clinic struggled to maintain an adequate supply.
Fortunately, late last Spring, 2015-2016 Global Health
Fellow Mike Wu had a chance encounter with Marie Donahue, Bon Sel program director, at the airport in Port-Au-Prince. After
discussing the interest and demand for Bon Sel in Thomassique, Marie Donahue was able to arrange transportation of a bulk
order from Port-au-Prince to Thomassique (which we received in two shipments in late June). Shortly thereafter, we met with
the CEO of Bon Sel, James Reimer, to discuss methods of expanding the use of Bon Sel salt in the Central Plateau and ensuring
reliable shipments for the future.
With the increased inventory of salt and a solidified
supply chain, in July we initiated the expansion of our Bon Sel program. Under our previous strategy, Bon Sel was sold by
each of the five Community Health Workers, the two water coordinators, and the Global Health Fellows. Our new expansion involved
the recruitment of two individuals from each of the five Community Health Committees to participate in the sale of Bon Sel
in their respective communities. These ten Salt Coordinators were trained to educate potential buyers about the health benefits
of using fortified salt by our Thomassique Water Coordinator, Sè Janvier, and the Clinic’s Chief Physician, Dr.
Vincent. As it is custom to wash dirty salt purchased from the market, training sessions emphasized the importance of instructing
buyers not to wash the pre-washed, medicated salt before use.
Educated on the value of iodine to the developing brain, the Salt Coordinators focus on sales towards pregnant women
and women with families with young children. Our Salt Coordinators now sell Bon Sel at mobile clinics, after weekly church
services, and during market days.
In addition to expanding the sale of Bon Sel through the Community Health Committees,
we also established salt-selling partnerships with a pharmacy in Thomassique and the Hinche-based disability advocacy group,
COPEMOR. To date, the expansion has been tremendously successful: from July through September, we sold over 4,000 pounds
of Bon Sel. We will continue to gather feedback from the various Community Health Workers and Salt Coordinators in the
months to come to determine ways to augment awareness of Bon Sel in the community.
Thanks to the efforts of the previous Fellows in strengthening our partnership with Bon Sel D’Ayiti, the sale
and distribution of Bon Sel remains one of our most promising and sustainable programs. The salt is sold at a competitive
price that allows us to recover the costs of purchasing the salt, and provides the salt seller a modest commission for each
bale sold. Now that we have managed to solidify a reliable supply chain, we are excited for the possibilities of increasing
the use of Bon Sel in the Thomassique region.
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