Aren’t we tired of hearing that Haiti is the poorest country of the western hemisphere? Based on what? We’d say? What is so different between Haiti and Jamaica or between Haiti and Dominican Republic? Aren’t we all poor island countries? Those who keep saying that are just ignorant or worst racist. They simply hate us; they hate our illustrious history. Those are typical Haitian reactions, right? A friend of mind, the poet Danielle George, has even written a poem about this topic:
Poem for the Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere
Oh poorest country, this is not your name.
You should be called beacon, and flame,
almond and bougainvillea, garden
and green mountain, villa and hut,
little girl with red ribbons in her hair,books-under-arm, charmed by the light
of morning, charcoal seller in black skirt,
encircled by dead trees.
You, country, are the businessman
and the eager young man, the grandfather
at the gate, at the crossroads
with the flashlight, with the light,
with the light.
(Copied from the Bill Moyers Journal – accessed on January 3, 2012 http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01222010/profile3.html)
Well, appearance is deceiving, what you need to consider is numbers. They don’t lie, most of the time. Indicators such as per capita rate or gross domestic product give a good idea of the economic standing of a country. Similarly, for healthcare infrastructures, infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and maternal mortality ratio, say a lot about a country’s standing. For example, in the slide below, compared to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, and USA, Haiti has the worst rates for all three health indicators.
As you can see in the table above, in 2009, Haiti’s infant mortality rate is more than twice as high as the Dominican Republic’s and 14 times as high as Cuba’s. Maternal mortality ratio presents a similar picture: Haiti’s ratio is three times as high as DR’s and five times as high as Cuba’s.
Some of our goals should be to improve those indicators, little by little, until our stats become comparable to those from the other countries of the Americas.