Modern health services were inadequate in the late 1980s. In 1982 the country had 810 physicians, 83 dentists, 758 nurses, 1,564 auxiliary nurses, and 403 health agents. Haiti had about one doctor for every 6,600 people and one nurse for every 8,000 people. Health services were concentrated in the capital area. Thus, in the most poorly served area of the country, there was only one physician for every 21,000 people. In the mid-1980s, there were thirty-eight hospitals in the country, more than half of which were in the Port-au-Prince area. Nongovernmental organizations provided almost half of the health services in the country in the late 1980s.
Most Haitians continued to meet their health-care needs through traditional remedies. Herbal medicine was widely used, especially in rural areas, although environmental deterioration made some herbs more difficult to obtain. In addition to home remedies, herbal specialists (doktč fey) provided massage and herbal remedies. Many voodoo specialists were also experts in herbal remedies. Traditional midwives assisted at most rural births. Many midwives received training in modern methods from the government. Traditional religion, used by many to diagnose and treat, has served well in some cases when modern medicine was not available.
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