PIH Stands with Haiti, Condemns President’s Reported Remarks
Co-founder and CEO call for solidarity on earthquake anniversary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sophia Abbasi, Communications Team Manager
BOSTON (Jan. 12, 2018)—Eight years after more than 250,000 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands more were injured when a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, global health nonprofit Partners In Health stands with the country in solidarity, support, and remembrance.
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010—eight years ago today—with an epicenter about 15 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The anniversary arrives as President Donald Trump reportedly made disparaging comments about Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa during a meeting with lawmakers Thursday in the White House. Trump asked: “Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?” according to reports in The Washington Post and other media outlets.
PIH CEO Dr. Gary Gottlieb spoke Friday morning on local radio stations, saying he was “horrified” by the President’s reported remark, which Gottlieb called “vulgar” and “a deeply hateful statement.”
Dr. Gottlieb also addressed the issue, and the earthquake remembrance, in a PIH email Friday.
“The remarkable people of Haiti and these countries in Africa (where PIH works), reflect unequalled genius; genius and passion that are the fabric of the true beauty of humankind. When those people become our neighbors here in the United States, or in the community of the world, our children, our homes, our institutions and our future become stronger and better,” Gottlieb said.
“There is little more important to remember as we mourn the more than 250,000 of our siblings who were lost in Haiti eight years ago and celebrate the special strength, the remarkable character, the great love and the vision of justice that the Haitian people offer to all of us,” he continued.
PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer also responded Friday to the President’s reported remarks, and cited the potential loss of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 59,000 Haitians in the U.S.
“To read Trump’s comments on the anniversary of the earthquake, and to attack TPS while labeling Haiti and other places we love ‘shitholes,’ demonstrates not only disrespect but hypocrisy regarding our policies. Since xenophobia and unvarnished white supremacy may be alive and well—and making us unwell—we need to redouble our efforts to cultivate the more common American traits of compassion and solidarity. These are what sustain our work,” Farmer said. “We can start by remembering this country was built by immigrants, some of them unwilling ones, and helping improve social conditions here and elsewhere.”
Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, has been providing health care in Haiti’s Central Plateau and the lower Artibonite for 33 years.
PIH leadership and staff provided emergency care in the 2010 earthquake’s aftermath, attended to the mental health needs of the traumatized, and helped families get back on their feet. Staff were also there when cholera infected thousands of Haitians just 10 months after the quake, and they continue to battle the ongoing epidemic, which has killed more than 9,700 people and sickened 815,000.
Partners In Health is an international medical organization that helps build and sustain public health systems in poor and underserved communities around the world. Launched in Haiti in 1987, Partners In Health today reaches 7 million people around the world and employs 18,000 people, including 15,000 local community health workers. Learn more about our work at www.pih.org.
Together we save lives and spread hope in the poorest places on Earth.