Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As this report pertains strictly to 2009, it does not address human rights issues in post earthquake Haiti. Still, it is highly relevant as long term recovery and reconstruction will depend in part upon creating a culture that respects human rights and a government that can enforce them.
While the impact of the earthquake was felt most acutely in Port au Prince, the entire country has been affected. Hundreds of thousands of the displaced have returned to a long neglected countryside and to secondary cities like Cap Haitian. Nate Nickerson, Director of Konbit Sante, provides an update on how Cap Haitian is dealing with the influx and what is being done to meet the health needs of returnees. You can learn more about Konbit Sante's important work, and how you can support them, on their Website and Facebook Page.
Right now, the priority is saving lives by ensuring access to food, water, and health care. Recovery will take many years and the assistance of the international community will be required in order to do so. But what kind of asssistance will be most effective? The New York Times, in its blog series "Room for Debate", asked a number of individuals connected to Haiti for their thoughts on what kind of aid should be provided and how. They may have very different beliefs, backgrounds, and perspectives but all care for Haiti. Taken together, their feedback is interesting food for thought that should be taken into account now and over the long term.
As of last week, Paul Farmer was no longer under consideration for the position of USAID Director. Today, it was announced that he has instead been appointed Deputy U.N Special Envoy to Haiti. Clinton said that Farmer's "credibility both among the people of Haiti and in the international community will be a tremendous asset" to their work in Haiti. While many looked forward to seeing him to reforming and leading USAID, this new position allows him to once again work full time on Haiti, a country for which he cares deeply.
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Katz recently wrote an article entitled "From Haiti, a Suprise: Good News about AIDS." In reality, it is far from a suprise. We've long known that Haiti has been, despite numerous challenges, one of only a handfull of countries to reverse its epidemic. Treatment models pioneered here are being applied in Sub-Saharan Africa. Haiti shows us what an engaged civil society and sustained political will, backed by international support, can accomplish in even the most difficult circumstances. I am proud and hope you are as well.
Konbit Sante is a Maine-based non profit organization focused on building the physical infrastructure of Cap Haitian's Justinian Hospital and the capacity of its staff, significant given that this health facility is the largest in the north. Last week, Konbit Sante announced a new partnership with Direct Relief International (DRI). DRI has agreed to provide close to half a million dollars worth of medications to the Justinian Hospital. Should tropical storms hit northern Haiti again this year, having these medicines on hand will considerably improve response time. A press release is copied below.
Below is a post from "The Cable", confirming rumors that Paul Farmer is considering a position in the Obama Administration. The position is as of yet unclear. It may be USAID Administrator or a new position coordinating U.S. Global Health programs. Partners in Health has had a tremendous impact in Haiti, Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. As a champion of health and human rights, Farmer's vision and expertise would be an asset to the Obama Administration.
World TB Day was on March 24. If this were a blog about HIV/AIDS, I could write about the progress that Haiti and the rest of the world is making. However, this is a blog on tuberculosis and a fight we are losing. More than two billion people, one third of the world’s total population, are infected with TB bacilli, the microbes that cause TB. People living with HIV are at greater risk. For Haiti, much more remains to be done.
The Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) is a non-profit, humanitarian organization created to meet the health and development needs of sugar cane workers, most of them Haitian, in the Dominican Republic. BRA recently announced that they will expand operations into Haiti itself. Given the interest of the Haitian and Dominican governments in cross-border collaboration, this is a timely expansion and we hope that it willl be a success. The press release is below.
Each year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards a single organzation one million dollars for its contributions to global health. A list of this year's nominees can be found here. Five of these nominees are organizations active in Haiti. I am familiar with, and very much respect the work of, FOSREF, GHESKIO, and Partners in Health. If you know of the other two organizations listed, please feel free to provide information in the comments section below. Once the awardee has been selected, we will post it as well.