Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Country Without a Net

I watched this 60 Minutes segment on Haiti on Sunday night (www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6108550n) and it captured the magnitude of the catastrophe there – truly shocking and heartbreaking. 


If you're looking for a great organization to donate to, please consider Paul Farmer's organization, Partners in Health (PIH).  I donated personally and a foundation I'm on the board of, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Foundation, just gave PIH $1 million.  You can donate at: https://donate.pih.org/page/contribute/haiti_earthquake


Like many, I first learned of Dr. Farmer's amazing work in Haiti through Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains (www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812980557/tilsoncapitalpar) and spent a day with him a few years ago when I helped organize a few events in NYC to raise money for PIH.  He is a great man – you can get a sense of that in the 60 Minutes segment, which features him prominently.


Below is an email from Ophelia Dahl, the Executive Director of PIH, about the work they're doing in Haiti right now, plus a recent Op Ed in the NY Times by Tracy Kidder that mentions PIH:

But there are effective aid organizations working in Haiti. At least one has not been crippled by the earthquake. Partners in Health, or in Haitian Creole Zanmi Lasante, has been the largest health care provider in rural Haiti. (I serve on this organization's development committee.) It operates, in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, some 10 hospitals and clinics, all far from the capital and all still intact. As a result of this calamity, Partners in Health probably just became the largest health care provider still standing in all Haiti.

Fortunately, it also offers a solid model for independence — a model where only a handful of Americans are involved in day-to-day operations, and Haitians run the show. Efforts like this could provide one way for Haiti, as it rebuilds, to renew the promise of its revolution.


Thank you!


Over the past 18 hours, Partners In Health staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH's Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with Zanmi Lasante leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH's coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at Zanmi Lasante's sites.

We have already begun to implement a two-part strategy to address the immediate need for emergency medical care in Port-au-Prince. First, we are organizing the logistics to get the medical staff and supplies needed for setting up field hospital sites in Port-au-Prince where we can triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities. To do this, we are creating a supply chain through the Dominican Republic. Second, we are ensuring that our facilities in the Central Plateau are ready to serve the flow of patients from Port-au-Prince. Operating and procedure rooms are staffed, supplied, and equipped for surgeries and we have converted a church in Cange into a large triage area. Already our sites in Cange and Hinche are reporting a steady flow of people coming with medical needs from the capital city. In the days that come we will need to make sure our pharmacies and supplies stay stocked and our staff continue to be able to respond.

Currently, our greatest need is financial support. Haiti is facing a crisis worse than it has seen in years, and it is a country that has faced years of crisis, both natural disaster and otherwise. The country is in need of millions of dollars right now to meet the needs of the communities hardest hit by the earthquake. Our facilities are strategically placed just two hours outside of Port-au-Prince and will inevitably absorb the flow of patients out of the city. In addition, we need cash on-hand to quickly procure emergency medical supplies, basic living necessities, as well as transportation and logistics support for the tens of thousands of people that will be seeking care at mobile field hospitals in the capital city. Any and all support that will help us respond to the immediate needs and continue our mission of strengthening the public health system in Haiti is greatly appreciated. Help us stand up for Haiti now.

If you are not in a position to make a financial contribution, you can help us raise awareness of the earthquake tragedy. Please alert your friends to the situation and direct them to www.pih.org for updates and ways to help. 

Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis,

Ophelia Dahl
Executive Director


Country Without a Net


Published: January 13, 2010

THOSE who know a little of Haiti's history might have watched the news last night and thought, as I did for a moment: "An earthquake? What next? Poor Haiti is cursed."

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