Healthcare in the Caribbean

Haiti’s Martelly Opens Therapy Centre, Launches Insurance Card Initiative

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - May 29, 2012

Above: Haiti President Michel Martelly with airport “Red Cap” workers, some of the first beneficiaries of a newly-launched insurance card programme (Photo: OP)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti President Michel Martelly officially opened a new physiotherapy department at the country’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Insurance (OFATMA), Illness and Maternity Monday.

The building housing the new service includes four living rooms, three physiotherapy facilities and a gym, with help from the French Red Cross.

On the same day, Martelly launched the new “Pink Card” initiative, an insurance card valid for one year for free, which facilitates access to health care for Haitian families.

“This is the appropriate time to recall that in the mandate given to the OFATMA in 1967, it was planned as health care on behalf of working men and women, of workers in the formal sectors, which was ignored for 45 years,” Martelly said at the launch. “So I am paying close attention to the start of the implementation for this health insurance for the benefit of a limited number of people in the informal sector.”

The first cardholders under what is essentially a pilot programme will include 400 workers, including 300 “red caps” from the Toussaint Louverture International Airport, along with 100 from the informal sector.

The initial distribution could help as many as 2,000 people, and the project could spread gradually across the country, according to Martelly’s office.

Martelly said the project would help open up OFATMA to the “wider society,” transcending its original obligations.

“Gradually, we move forward,” he said. “The objective is to enable all Haitians to find health care when they are sick. It is like a free education programme — just as we work to send all children to school, we are fighting for all of Haiti to fully enjoy its right to health by the end of my term.”

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