The credibility of any government is determined in large part by its capacity and willingness to provide basic services. Health care can bring people together when there is equal access, or divide people when there is not. Before and after the earthquake, quality health care in Haiti was/is primarily provided by non-governmental and international organizations (NGOs/IOs). The NGOs and IOs have been instrumental in keeping disease outbreaks at bay and access to health care for many residents in Port au Prince, at least for now, is better than it was before the earthquake. While significant accomplishments, much more remains to be done before we can say that the health care system is truly being reconstructed.
March 22 is World Water Day. Growing up, like many others, I did not appreciate how lucky I was to have clean, safe water. We need it to drink and become sick if we do not have it. We need it for agriculture and would become hungry without it. We need it for washing, bathing, and clean health care facilities. Likewise we need sanitation and hygiene to protect food, water, and health. One billion people around the world still lack clean drinking water and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation. It doesn’t have to be this way. World Water Day is an opportunity to ask what we can do in the year ahead to address the world's water crisis.
Today is World Pneumonia Day 2009. Every day, 4000 children die from pneumonia in Haiti and other countries throughout the developing world. This is more than HIV/AIDS, measles, and malaria combined. Despite that, it has not been a global health priority. This could change as there is more attention being given this preventable and treatable disease. While there is no single magic bullet, there are a series of proven interventions that, if scaled up, would protect and promote the health of children around the world. Click here to learn which organizations participated in World Pneumonia Day 2009 and here to learn how you can be a part of the global fight against pneumonia, not just for one day, but throughout the year.
Below is a piece by Miami Herald contributor Greg Blustein on a new initiative launched by the Carter Center to eradicate malaria in the Dominican Republic and Haiti within 10 years. The funding will be used on house to house search for cases, free treatment and mosquito control, repellents for mosquito nets and walls in high risk areas, and for education and social mobilization in both countries. Malaria is a nasty disease to which children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. However, it is preventable, treatable and the international community knows what works. We hope that this initiative will be a success for both Haiti and the DR.
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.
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.
Surgical Volunteers International (SVI) is an organization that specializes in treating clefts, burns and urological problems. SVI visited Haiti in March and worked with Haitian counterparts to reconstruct, without charge, 67 cleft lips and palates. SVI will travel to Haiti in June and again in September. If you know of a Haitian child in need of surgery for a cleft lip or palate, please pass on the contact information contained in the attached flyer (in Kreyol) to his/her family. Below is a summary of their last visit from the SVI Blog.
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.
JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is a health research/consulting firm dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide. JSI visited Haiti in January 2009 to identify gaps in the availability and accessibility of reproductive health (RH) services and to assess community responses for strengthening quality, accessibility and availability. Reproductive health is a social issue, a public health issue, a human rights issue, a security issue, and one that is important for countries that are fragile, stable, or in Haiti's case, teetering in between. The report is attached and deserves to be widely read.
According to Jonathan Katz, public health workers plan to vaccinate some 1 million women and children this week around Haiti's capital after delays exacerbated by food riots and hurricanes. The effort marks the second phase of an international goal to immunize 5.6 million Haitian children - more than half the country's population - against diseases like polio, measles and rubella.