What has your charity done in Haiti?
Partners In Health (PIH) and our sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL), have been working in Haiti for over 25 years. The model of PIH/ZL’s services is based in comprehensive, public, community-based healthcare and socioeconomic support. When the earthquake struck on January 12, PIH/ZL was already working at 12 clinics and hospitals in rural Haiti, and employed over 4,700 Haitian staff, including 100 doctors and over 600 nurses. Due to our comprehensive approach, deep community roots, and established relationship with the Ministry of Health in Haiti, PIH/ZL was uniquely positioned both to provide emergency care and to help develop and implement plans for long-term reconstruction. Following the earthquake, PIH/ZL provided life-saving care to thousands of injured people, opened clinics to serve more than 100,000 people in four spontaneous settlement camps, and launched a $125-million plan to help rebuild Haiti’s public health and health educations systems. As part of our efforts to help build back better after the earthquake, PIH/ZL continues to expand and strengthen the medical services and socioeconomic programs that existed prior to the earthquake at the 12 PIH/ZL facilities in the Central Plateau and Artibonite Department. http://www.standwithhaiti.org/
What are the outcomes (immediate results) of your efforts in Haiti?
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Zanmi Lasante took immediate action to provide emergency medical care to earthquake victims both in Port-au-Prince and at our facilities in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite. ZL medical and engineering staff arrived at the badly damaged general hospital in Port-au-Prince just after the quake, where they helped restore electricity, deployed volunteer surgical teams and urgently needed supplies, and worked with partners to get 12 operating rooms up and running around the clock. ZL also opened up new emergency wards and brought in volunteer orthopedic teams to help perform emergency surgeries at four of our largest facilities in central Haiti. In the first four weeks after the earthquake, these facilities delivered life-saving medical care to 2,961 patients with earthquake-related injuries. PIH and ZL have moved 1.5 million pounds of medical equipment and supplies to Haiti to respond to increased needs at our sites. Two weeks after the earthquake, ZL set up health clinics to serve over 100,000 displaced people living in four spontaneous settlement camps in Port-au-Prince. ZL’s clinics provide comprehensive primary health care and social support services – including maternal and child health, HIV testing, mental health care, and malnutrition treatment, and have had 146,940 patient visits. Each clinic is staffed by a team of Haitian physicians, nurses, psychologist, pharmacists, and lab technicians, and ZL has trained and hired 60 camp residents to serve as community health workers at each location. In the more long-term recovery, ZL has more than doubled the size of our rehabilitative and mental health teams, in response to the number of patients needing ongoing and specialized rehabilitation. By the end of June, the physical therapy team distributed 400 wheelchairs and was providing care to 50 people with amputations. The mental health and psychosocial support team had offered support services to 4,247 people living in the spontaneous settlements. ZL is also providing social support to help combat other effects of the earthquake, including educational and agricultural support. ZL enrolled 500 displaced children into pre-existing ZL-supported school programs, and trained 1,000 families in innovate farming techniques to increase their food production and food security. In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, PIH/ZL is building a world-class, 320-bed teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. As the largest public medical school and teaching hospital was destroyed in the earthquake, the Mirebalais Hospital will serve as a critical training facility for Haitian students. When it opens in late 2011, the Mirebalais Hospital will be Haiti’s largest public hospital outside Port-au-Prince. http://www.pih.org/annual-report/entry/annual-report-haiti-earthquake/
Based on your outcomes thus far, has your charity adjusted its course of action to improve the results?
Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante did modify some of our efforts in the months following the earthquake. We operate 15 clinics and hospitals in the Central Plateau and Artibonite Department of Haiti, but prior to the earthquake did not have a presence in Port-au-Prince. At the request of the administration of the badly damaged and understaffed General Hospital in Port-au-Prince—l’Hopital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti (HUEH), PIH/ZL coordinated more than a dozen relief NGOs’ medical relief efforts at the hospital in the weeks following the earthquake. In six the months following the earthquake, we continued to support the hospital by organizing teams of clinical specialists to meet the evolving needs of patients. As patient needs changed, Haitian staff returned to work, and departments were repaired and became functional, PIH/ZL returned the responsibilities back to the hospital administration and only served to fill specific staff, equipment, or program shortages. We have stopped sending volunteer surgical teams to Haiti. The PIH/ZL model is centered on training and building local medical and support staff, but the sheer magnitude of patient need required us to bolster ZL’s medical team with clinical staff from abroad. Now that patient needs have shifted away from emergency orthopedic and surgical care, and as we build partnerships to grow long-term local rehab programs, we no longer rely on medical volunteers. PIH/ZL continues to operate in Port-au-Prince at clinics within three spontaneous settlements. Residents of these settlements can access free comprehensive primary care and social support services—including maternal and child health, reproductive health care, HIV testing, and malnutrition screening and treatment—and patients needing further care are referred into our pre-existing health network. http://www.standwithhaiti.org/
Is your charity planning to continue to provide assistance to Haiti in the coming months and years? If so, please explain your plans.
Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante has been committed to providing comprehensive medical care for over two decades, and remains committed to this work. PIH/ZL will work in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Haiti to strengthen services at the 15 hospitals and clinics in which we operate. We will continue to train and hire local medical professionals, expand the medical services available at our facilities, and provide social services for the communities we serve. PIH, through our advocacy and policy arm, will also continue to advocate for the international financial support of the Government of Haiti, and that pledges made for earthquake recovery are indeed disbursed and spent accordingly. The largest project that PIH/ZL is undertaking as part of the earthquake response is the construction of a state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Mirebalais, a city about 35 miles north of Port-au-Prince. The hospital will be the largest public hospital outside of Port-au-Prince, with 320 beds, and will include facilities not publicly offered in Haiti, including an ICU and operating theater complex. As the main teaching hospital in Haiti, l’Hopital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti (HUEH), was badly damaged in the earthqauke, the Mirebalais Hospital supplement the clinical training for doctors, nurses, and medical staff while other teaching facilities are rebuilt in Port-au-Prince. We expect to open doors at the end of 2011. http://www.pih.org/annual-report/entry/annual-report-haiti-ongoing-programs/
What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges facing the people of Haiti in the years to come? Do you have suggestions for how to address these challenges both via your own organization and through the efforts of others?
The earthquake displaced 1.5 million people. In a country of 9 million people, the impact of so many displaced residents will continue to affect Haiti’s recovery for years to come. The most critical piece of the recovery will be to provide adequate and dignified housing for those who lost everything—and the Government of Haiti will need massive resources to do so. In the more long-term recovery, we see a lack of coordination with the Haitian Government. Haiti is faced, once again, with the chronic deprivation of resources that would allow it to provide public services for the Haitian people. The majority of all earthquake recovery funds are not directed to the Haitian government, but are being routed through a variety of NGOs in Haiti, some of which work in parallel, rather than in cooperation with the public sector, solidifying the system that ensures that Haiti will never develop or decrease its reliance on foreign aid. PIH operates in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Haiti, and recommends that other organizations look to strengthen the public infrastructure in the sector they are serving in.
Have you been able to coordinate and pool your efforts with other organizations?
As previously mentioned, PIH/ZL coordinated more than a dozen relief NGOs’ medical relief efforts at the University Hospital in the weeks following the earthquake. In six the months following the earthquake, we continued to support the hospital by organizing teams of clinical specialists from a variety of organizations in order to meet the evolving needs of patients. Partners In Health has always relied on an extensive network of partner organizations. PIH is, as its core, a medical organization. However, we have long known that the root cause of disease is poverty, and we work to combat both acute medical conditions and their chronic causes—lack of access to clean water or adequate food, poor housing conditions, lack of education and economic opportunities. We work with partners in all aspects of our work: organizations with specific expertise in solar energy and clean water systems, academic partners that will improve our medical training capabilities, and partners that help fund our work in Haiti and the 11 other countries in which we work.