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At the start of this year, MSF was operating four health structures in Port-au-Prince, providing, among other things, primary and secondary care, trauma and emergency treatment, and surgical and obstetric services. After the earthquake, as MSF rushed to respond to overwhelming medical needs, that number rose to 26-a number that included hospitals, post-operative care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and general medical centers. Following the consolidation of some facilities and a shift in priorities, MSF now manages 19 health structures along with 3 mobile clinics. MSF also runs 16 operating theaters and has more than 1,200 beds available at its various locations. Overall, since the earthquake, MSF has provided medical care to more than 92,000 patients and performed nearly 5,000 surgeries.
Since the devastating earthquake on January 12th, hospital services in Haiti have been provided to patients for free. No matter what your status or ability to pay, for three months after the earthquake you could feel certain that you could see a doctor and (hopefully acquire medications) for free. This was a fantastic service and was a great idea because it enabled the poor to have access to the healthcare services that they often go without.
An efficient, self-sustaining and self-financing system for health care is very attractive but also very hard to achieve. Even the United States, the richest country in the history of the world, can’t quite figure out how to do it. Significant resources have been donated for Haiti in recognition of the immense scale of loss and much of these resources have been used in part to subsidize the most basic goods and services (including health care) that people need but simply do not have the ability to pay for. Pulling this subsidy out now, three months after the worst disaster in the Western Hemisphere seems too abrupt. If there was a gradual lessening, rather than a complete elimination of the subsidy, perhaps there would be time for the market forces to kick in without kicking out all the people who lost everything.
It is clear that the humanitarian action taken over the past three months has averted a post-earthquake crisis. There have been no outbreaks of diseases or epidemics so far. Much however, remains to be done. With the upcoming rainy and hurricane seasons, the relocation of displaced people to safer shelters, along with the provision of basic services and the protection of children and women, remain a priority.
UNICEF, with its partners, will continue to support the relief operations and assist in the reconstruction and recovery phase. Children must re-main at the forefront of the reconstruction, recovery, and development processes. It is important that children’s voices are heard, their rights are upheld, and their needs are addressed. UNICEF Haiti’s three priorities for 2010 include:
1. Ensuring that children are in school;
2. Preventing and addressing the threat of under-nutrition in children;
3. Protecting the most vulnerable from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.
he senior officer who has been leading the U.S. military earthquake relief effort in Haiti says the formal operation will end around June 1. But Army Lieutenant General Ken Keen says American efforts to help Haiti recover from the quake will continue beyond that date.
General Keen ended his three-month assignment as U.S. commander in Haiti on Sunday, handing over command to a slightly lower-ranking officer. The change reflects the reduction in the number of U.S. troops involved in the relief operation that peaked at 22,000 in February, most of them on several Navy ships.
Now the ships are gone and just 2,200 troops remain on land. They are helping move quake refugees to safer locations and providing other logistical help to Haitian and international relief efforts for the current rainy season and the approaching hurricane season.
Now, as things begin to settle, relatively speaking, the citizens and relief help face another challenge. This month marks the arrival of the rainy season, which precedes the summer Atlantic hurricane season.
But the Red Cross is working to head off any problems that may arise from rains.
Currently, volunteers are working to provide enclosed transitional shelters for 250,000 people who will be vulnerable to catastrophic flooding.
Furthermore, the Red Cross is establishing early warning systems that will include alerts and evacuation routes, training members in the community to act as liaisons while also becoming first aid equipped, pre-positioning medicine and other supplies and fashioning ditches and re-establishing old ones for drainage.
In their continued effort to prepare for further disaster, the Red Cross is also stockpiling food, water and other necessities for precautionary measures.
On an upbeat economic note
Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti – – It has survived 19 coups, military rule, hurricanes and even a three-year embargo.
But in the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haiti’s best-known export and one of its oldest businesses, Rhum Barbancourt, suffered a $4-million setback. Amber bottles and white oak vats – some containing rum as old as 15 years – crashed to the distillery floor.
It could take up to four years for production of one of the world’s top rums to return to its pre-quake capacity, though the owner is hoping to resume bottling and shipping by early May. Travelers can now purchase the rum at the Port-au-Prince airport – though there’s a three-bottle limit – after an almost three-month hiatus.
The company also lost two employees, who died when their homes flattened. More than 25% of the employees saw their homes collapse, including Gardere’s near the quake-destroyed Hotel Montana. Some homeless employees camped in a nearby soccer field along with 300 others.
The company sells about $12 million a year, Gardere said – modest compared with Bacardi, which earned $805 million in fiscal 2009. The Haitian rum’s biggest overseas market is the United States.
Up Date: I have to commend the bloggers at DKos headed by DallasDoc and TexMex who have tirelessly posted daily diaries there with up dates and information about the humanitarian efforts by the countless groups that are operating in Haiti. Thank you all for your efforts to keep Haiti in your hearts and in the news.