Miami-Dade's Haitian Community Struggles To Keep Up With Zika Updates

Jul 29, 2016

The Florida Department of Health releases new information on Zika everyday, but some leaders in the Haitian community in Miami-Dade say the outreach isn't reaching everyone.

Dr. Smith Joseph, Mayor of North Miami, has a medical practice in the city. He says when it comes to Zika, some of the Haitian community in Miami Dade is in the dark. 

"There's nothing that has been targeted to the Haitian population in Miami Dade County," Joseph said. 

Dr. Joseph participates in Creole language radio programs, where he answers questions about Zika.

As the numbers of both locally and travel related cases of Zika continue to grow, Dr. Joseph said he's taken it upon himself to speak out more. 

But he says the conversations he has at Church, City Hall meetings or with his patients are not enough.

In his own words, these conversations are "no more than a drop of water in a much larger bucket."

"The Community Centers should be armed with pamphlets, information written in Creole or at the very least French," Joseph said. 

WLRN asked The Florida Department of Health what it is doing to reach the Haitian community. 

In a written response, FDOH says it does offer outreach materials in Haitian Creole, as well as Spanish, English and Portuguese, and that county departments have been focusing on outreach. 

The FDOH also provided WLRN with a video on mosquito protection in Creole, but as of yet, shared no pamphlets specifically mentioning Zika in the language. 

Gepsie Metellus, executive director of the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, said the local Health Department has not reached out to her organization. 

"I have to pick up the phone, at this point, and reach out and say 'this virus or these mosquitoes are not going to select who they want to bite, right?' We are all at risk, and so we have to be sure to be on top of this one." 

Metellus said she has made some progress, over the last week. She has meetings set up with the local health department to discuss outreach programs.