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January 13, 2010
The horrors of Haiti demand a response

Some stories and event exceed the ability to use words and adjectives to capture the depths. We cannot gild words or exaggerate the story of the Haiti earthquake. How do you approach the horror, the tragedy and suffering in any coherent way?

The International Red Cross estimates that three million people have lost their homes. The pictures are devastating, the statistics beyond grim.

Short term and medium term, and systemically, Haiti needs help. Among the many options, is Partners in Health, co-founded by Paul Farmer, the physician and public health advocate. Here’s what Partners in Health has said so far about the situation in Haiti:

A major earthquake centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince has devastated sections of the city and knocked out telephone communications throughout the country. Reached via email, Partners In Health staff at our facilities in the Central Plateau report that they experienced a strong shock but no major damage or injuries. We are still attempting to establish contact with other PIH facilities and to locate several staff members who were traveling in and around Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake has destroyed much of the already fragile and overburdened infrastructure in the most densely populated part of the country. A massive and immediate international response is needed to provide food, water, shelter, and medical supplies for tens of thousands of people.

In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: ‘Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS.SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.’

With our hospitals and our highly trained medical staff in place in Haiti, Partners In Health is already mobilizing resources and preparing plans to bring medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit. In Boston, our procurement and development teams are already fielding numerous offers of support and making arrangements to deliver resources as quickly as possible to the places where they are needed most.

Partners for Health,  and any number of health and relief organizations will receive offers of support.

One concern is Haiti’s ability to absorb an influx of financial support and other contributions without adequate infrastructure. The U.S. government, perhaps international organizations like the OAS and
UN should move to create infrastructure and provide lasting solutions to the long-suffering people of Haiti.

Meanwhile, it’s time to get informed and get involved. The tragedy of Haiti is ours.

– Peter Eisner

For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.

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[…] The horrors of Haiti demand a response | Worldfocus worldfocus.org/blog/2010/01/13/the-horrors-of-haiti-demand-a-response/ – view page – cached Worldfocus contributing editor Peter Eisner writes about the devastation in Haiti. […]

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Peter Eisner is an editorial consultant with Worldfocus and a 30-year veteran of international news. He has been an editor and foreign correspondent at The Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. He co-authored “The Italian Letter,” which details fraudulent intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. He was founder and president of Newscom, an international online news service, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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