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Review Reveals Haiti's Longstanding Problems

 BOSTON – Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health and Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Loune Viaud, Director of Operations and Strategic Planning of Zanmi Lasante (ZL), the Haitian sister organization of Partners In Health, testified at a Capitol Hill hearing hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, "Focus on Haiti: The Road to Recovery - A Six Month Review.”

 

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Farmer’s prepared remarks:

 

“Though by some reports and some “macro” indicators there had been slow improvements in Haiti in the year prior to the quake, the problems we’re struggling with today are longstanding, if much aggravated by the worst natural disaster to befall the world in recent centuries. Whether we look at health, education, potable water, or safe, affordable housing, we can draw similar conclusions: first, great weakness in the public sector makes it exceedingly difficult to deliver basic services at significant scale; second, not enough of the pledged earthquake relief has reached those in greatest need.

 

…I would like to argue here that my own earnest engagement in this arena has taught me that one of the primary tasks of development assistance, including that delivered by NGOs, must be to strengthen Haitian public-sector capacity, especially in the arenas of health, education, water, and housing—which some refer to as basic social and economic rights. Our historical failure to do so is one of the primary reasons that trying to help the public sector now is like trying to transfuse whole blood through a small-gauge needle or, in popular parlance, to drink from a fire hose…”

 

 

For the full text of Dr. Paul Farmer’s and Loune Viaud’s remarks, please visit: http://act.pih.org/Capitol-Hill-Hearing-072710

 

 

Partners In Health has a three-year, $125 million plan for relief and reconstruction that focuses on providing comprehensive health care and social support services for earthquake survivors and on rebuilding Haiti's public health and health education systems. 

 

A new, innovative teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, will serve as PIH/ZL’s flagship effort to rebuild Haiti’s health sector. Mirebalais will be a national referral facility with 320 beds—equivalent in capacity to all 12 of the sites in which PIH currently works in Haiti, combined—and it will offer clinical facilities not available at any public site in the country, including an intensive care unit and an operating theatre complex with six operating rooms equipped for thoracic surgery. By the first anniversary of the earthquake—January 12, 2011—the seven buildings of the main hospital campus, comprising 180,000 square feet, will be standing, with work on the interiors begun. Plans call for the hospital to be accepting patients by the end of 2011.

 

About PIH: PIH works in 12 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is the largest health care provider in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley. PIH had nearly 5,000 staff in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake.

 



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