The catastrophe in Haiti spared the country’s largest – and, I believe, most effective – rural health care provider, Partners In Health. The organization’s principal founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, is on his way to Haiti now with a surgical team. The staff already in Haiti will welcome his arrival, but they have been at work for days now. Indeed, they were some of the first medical personnel to respond to the crisis. This is a large, highly skilled group of about 2000 community health workers, 500 nurses, and 120 doctors. All but a few of them are Haitian. They are spread out now. Thousands of injured people have been traveling from the capital to the hospitals that PIH operates, along with the Ministry of Health, in the Central Plateau – 10 hospitals, all well-equipped and fully functional. Others of the PIH-Haiti team are in the capital Port-au-Prince, where they have set up mobile clinics and where they are now establishing a central base of operations. The plan is to provide emergency care to all comers and to stabilize patients who need higher levels of care and arrange to get them to the PIH hospitals.
Personally, I take hope from the example that PIH has set and is setting again. I think it is one excellent model for the reconstruction of Haiti to come: an endeavor that employs and trains Haitians every step of the way, that builds infrastructure while attending to the basic needs of the poor, that does all it can to strengthen the public sector.
Many people have been writing to ask what they can do. Paul reports, “I just talked to some of my Haitian coworkers who are in Port-au-Prince in the general hospital, and they’ve reported to work. [But] they don't have electricity yet. They don't have the supplies that they need. But there's a lot of Haitian health professionals, doctors, nurses, aides who would like to [do their job], but to do that you need the supplies. You have to have the basics. Gauze, plaster, or other casts. You have to have the equipment that you need. Anesthesia, pain medications, antibiotics. And that's what some of my medical colleagues are asking us for, supplies."
PIH is purchasing and procuring donated supplies around the clock. To aid in these efforts, please consider making a donation to their efforts today.
- Tracy Kidder