This week on May 27 and 28 (Wed. and Thurs.), the Director of Nutrition for the Haitian ministry of public health (MSPP), Dr. Joseline Marhone, welcomed a wide variety of guests to an open house at the two salt factories managed by the Notre Dame Haiti Program in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.
The original location, in Citi Militaire, was the sole location of the University’s salt project until the new factory opened in nearby Delmas approximately six months ago. The new and significantly more capable Delmas facility opened its doors on December 8, 2014 in a dedication ceremony attended by Haitian First Lady Sophia Martelly and other dignitaries. The new factory became fully operational one month later.
This week’s open house was co-hosted by the Notre Dame Haiti Program and MSPP and was the first open house at the new salt factory. The event showcased the products and capabilities which the two facilities provide for the people of Haiti. The salt project is part of the larger effort of the Notre Dame Haiti Program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis, in Haiti by 2020. The factories provide Haiti’s first supply of iodized salt. They support the mass drug administration effort to eliminate LF by co-fortifying much of the salt with diethylcarbamazine citrate, which kills the mosquito-transmitted parasites that can lead to LF.
Notable attendees at the event included Dr. Florence D. Guillaume, the Haitian Minister of Public Health and population who was accompanied by Director General Georges Dubuche and who had a chance to observe first-hand the operation of the new salt washing equipment at the Delmas facility, which supports the washing of local Haitian salt to meet the standards of safe consumption. It is the first such facility of its kind in the Caribbean island nation.
The event drew a wide range of participants, including government officials, local salt producers, salt marketing personnel, and consumers. Among those in attendance was Notre Dame Haiti Program founder and principal investigator, Rev. Thomas Streit, C.S.C., who offered a blessing to open the event. He noted, “Efforts such as this, which showcase the importance and efficacy of co-fortified iodized salt, are vital in our efforts to eliminate LF, while also addressing improved health for future generations of Haitians.”