Bon Sel - The Good Salt

BonSelDeliveryTruck.jpgHaiti 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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