Below is an email Paul Farmer wrote to Partners in Health (PIH) HQ concerning the recent flooding in Haiti. The country is dealing with a true catastrophe, described by President Preval as a "nationwide Katrina." In addition to their responsibilities on the Central Plateau, PIH is stepping up by helping the Ministry of Health provide life saving services throughout the Artibonite. If you have been asking yourself how you can help Haiti, a donation to PIH to fund their emergency operations is an excellent way to do so. You can make a donation directly through their website. For additional information, read the transcript of an interview of Paul by Democracy Now here.
There a number of new items on the Partners in Health Website worth looking at. Watch (or read) an interview with Paul Farmer and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Paul traces the history of Haiti, discusses how a country with agricultural roots came to be tremendously food insecure, and explains how social justice and public health reinforce each other. As he puts it, "We need a movement that’s not just run by people who are experts, but the citizenry. Be part of a movement to push forward social justice, and that will lead us on healthcare, as well."
Copied below is a brief article in the Boston Globe written by Dr. Joia Mukherjee and Donna Barry, both of whom work for the Institute for Health and Social Justice at Partners In Health. Though short, the article cuts through many of the cliches we've seen so far on hunger in Haiti. The piece covers the long term historical reasons for food security, which is by no means new. It also notes how food "assistance" can cause more harm than good and the burden of Haiti's debt on this struggling, young democracy. With minimal tourism or industry, Haiti need its agricultural sector more than ever. But will developed countries let Haiti compete? A level playing field would be more important than any hand out for Haiti's long term development.
Thought you might enjoy reading a Boston Globe piece about progress being made by Partners in Health in Rwanda. It really is an inspiring story. Rwanda was torn apart during the Genocide, but is coming together again. Health is clearly playing an important role in the reconciliation process. Working closely with the Clinton Foundation, the Government of Rwanda, and a large team of dedicated communicate health workers, there are making a real difference with the knowledge and experience they gained in their +20 years of experience in Haiti.
We often write about the remarkable gains that Haiti has made in halting and reversing HIV/AIDS. It is a story that deserves to be told and heard more often. Haiti's own Partners in Health (PIH) is taking what it has learned in Haiti and using it to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Lesotho may be the biggest challenge the organization has faced yet, but they are clearly up to it. Africa continues to be a source of inspiration and strength to many Haitians but it is not a one sided relationship. Through PIH, Haiti is giving back.