More than five years after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, the nation’s children remain at risk. According to The World Bank, the under-5 mortality rate was especially high at 174 per 1,000 live births in 2010 — the year of the earthquake. But since then, the number has been consistently, if slowly, dropping to pre-earthquake lows. In 2011, the number fell to 77 and as of 2013, the latest year on record, the rate is 73 per 1,000 live births.
To learn more about how the country has fared since the disaster, Beyoncé decided to take a humanitarian trip to Haiti in May. While there, the world-famous singer, songwriter and actor went to one hospital working to suppress child mortality rates — St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre, Haiti. Founded by Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), the hospital was initially supposed to serve as a home for children with no families. But the institution changed its mission. Per the hospital website: “… the large amount of children dying from treatable illnesses showed a desperate need for a hospital that could treat chronic and other debilitating pediatric illnesses.”
Watch the ABC News/Fusion exclusive video above, provided by Parkwood Entertainment, to see what Beyoncé witnessed in Haiti.
The hospital’s medical director, Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, said in a video showcasing Beyonce’s visit that pneumonia, a treatable infectious disease, is one of the top killers of children in Haiti. Says Gautier of the disease, “Even though it is easily treated, if parents don’t have access because of money for transportation, because of money to pay for antibiotics, and did not show up early, then the children can die.”
Every day, said Gautier, 150 children show up for treatment at the hospital doors. But Gautier says St. Damien Pediatric Hospital doesn’t have the capacity to treat everyone: “It’s heartbreaking sometimes to send children away, but many times we have no choice.”
You can help support St. Damien by purchasing a BeyGOOD Haiti t-shirt. All proceeds will go to helping the hospital, which has been forced to close a wing for lack of funding.