Haiti Country Report
Haiti lacks basic conditions for investment. Infrastructure lags behind regional standards, including in transport, communications, and energy. The country struggles to recover from its frequent natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. These have caused significant infrastructural damage, including in Port-au-Prince and the south of the country, destroying government buildings and rendering many roads unusable. Reconstruction is still ongoing in 2020. Corruption is extremely high; bribes and “extra contributions” at all stages of the administrative process are being demanded. The country is heavily dependent on foreign aid, and lenders and donors have conditioned aid to a resolution of the ongoing political crisis.
Extreme poverty, high levels of impunity, and corruption and low capacity within the domestic police contribute to elevated crime. Many thousands of weapons remain in private hands, often controlled by drug-related criminal gangs. Murder rates are reported to be roughly 10 per 100,000, but statistics are unlikely to be accurate because of underreporting. Most murders and gang-related violence occur in Port-au-Prince. Crime levels are likely to increase in 2020 following the withdrawal of the UN mission MINUJUSTH and the national police's lack of capacity to tackle crime, particularly during a time of ongoing violent protests.
Vaccines required to enter the country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Haiti. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
Vaccines recommended for all travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines recommended for most travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines recommended for some travelers
Cholera: A newly licensed cholera vaccine (Vaxchora) has just been made available and may be prescribed for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission. The vaccine prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. As the vaccine is not fully effective, hygienic precautions should also be taken (e.g. drinking only bottled water, eating only thoroughly cooked foods, washing hands regularly, etc.).
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Besides the significant threat of earthquakes (see INTRODUCTION), travelers should also note that the rainy seasons last from April to June and from August to October, and hurricane season lasts from June to November. During these periods, potentially deadly floods and landslides cause significant destruction throughout the country, including in the capital. Due to poor infrastructure, cities and towns throughout Haiti are highly vulnerable to floods and emergency response efforts are often insufficient.
Some 500 people were killed during the passage of Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane that made landfall in the west of the country on October 4, 2016. The storm caused major infrastructural damages in the southwestern departments of Sud, Grand'Anse, and Nippes, and destroyed or damaged some 120,000 homes. Widespread crop destruction (risk of famine), a lack of clean drinking water, a sharp rise in consumer prices, and a devastated economy have increased sociopolitical tensions.
Regarding air travel, the state is unable to guarantee the safety and maintenance of aircraft. No Haitian carriers are on the list of airlines banned from flying in European Union (EU) airspace, commonly referred to as the EU blacklist. However, all are banned from flying to or from the United Kingdom or its oversea territories.
Road conditions are often dangerous due to unsafe driving habits, poorly maintained roads, and the presence of armed criminal groups. As such, is it advisable to only travel during daylight hours whenever possible and to always drive with doors locked and windows rolled up. Highways in parts of the country can be isolated, with limited access to gas stations and inconsistent cell phone reception.
Never attempt to cross roadblocks, which are sometimes erected by criminal groups (e.g. on the RN2 highway near Petit-Goâve) or protesters. Instead, turn around and find another route.
Bridges and roads, particularly secondary and tertiary roads, are often damaged or left flooded for long periods of time following heavy rains due to poor drainage.
If traveling to the Dominican Republic by car, be aware there are only four border crossings and as such long waiting times are common. Furthermore, land access to the neighboring country is often hindered by roadblocks and border closings as tensions between the two countries generally run high. Caribe Tours offers a safe and comfortable bus service between Pétionville (capital region) and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The use of taxis - particularly motorcycle taxis ("moto-taxis") and unlicensed taxis ("taxis marrons") - is advised against.
Mobile telephones are widely used. Signal reception varies but is generally good in and around Port-au-Prince. Local SIM cards and prepaid cards are available for purchase in cities and larger towns.
Haiti has a tropical climate with temperatures relatively stable throughout the year (23°C to 32°C, cooler in mountainous regions). The rainy season lasts from May until June and hurricanes can strike between July and October. Rain is common on reliefs exposed to northeasterly winds. The months of December and January are dry.
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