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  • Every Water Source Contaminated

    Startling, isn't it. But I ran across this short article about Haiti's water:

    "Nearly every water source in Haiti – rivers, streams, springs and wells – is contaminated with human waste and disease. There are no public sewage treatment or disposal systems anywhere in the country – even in the large cities. The result is a tragedy."

    See: Innovative System to Provide Clean Drinking Water to Developing Countries (The photo is from that article)

    One of the most tireless workers in Haiti is Dr. Paul Farmer whose organization Partners in Health fights disease in Haiti and other countries. A great read about Dr. Farmer's work is Mountains Beyond Mountains. Dr. Farmer points out how important living conditions—water, sanitation, and food—are to staving off disease. His story shows how one person can make a difference. Partners in Health is another extremely worthwhile group to give to. You can make a difference! A mere $100 can purify water of a household that doesn't have access to clean water

  • The Perfect Gift for the Cruisers on Your Christmas List: The Other Face of Haiti

    Do you have friends or relatives on your Christmas gift list who enjoy vacations on cruise ships? The New York Times recently featured a story on a Royal Caribbean cruise that stops at the Labadie Beach Resort in northern Haiti. If you know anyone who is planning on a Caribbean cruise with that or another cruise line, get them a copy of Tracy Kidder's book "Mountains Beyond Mountains." The book follows the life of Dr. Paul Farmer—a great champion of health care for the poor. He also founded Partners In Health. Your cruising friends will have a chance to learn about the side a Haiti that they will never see from the cruise ship.

    You are your gift recipients can help Partners in Health break the cycle of poverty and disease by donating to them.

    More on Partners In Health in Haiti.

    More on HIV in the Caribbean.

  • Update on Haiti from Partners in Health

    Read this update from Partners in Health about the situation in Hait and help in any way that you can.

    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.

  • Relief to Haiti

    Partners in Health has been working in Haiti for many years. Because of that, they've been able to step in and help out with Haiti, being some of the first on the scene. This is the latest update. If you are unfamiliar with PIH, check them out. They are an amazing organization, started by Dr. Paul Farmer. Mountains Beyond Mountains tells the story of Paul Farmer's interest in Haiti and how he came to start Partners in Health. The people of Haiti were in desperate conditions BEFORE the earthquake.

    Ophelia Dhal, the Executive Director of PIH says:

    "Since Tuesday evening, PIH staff has been working around the clock to bring relief to the people of Haiti who are suffering immensely in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake. You have seen the images on the news, read the updates on the web, and responded in a profoundly generous way to our calls for help - we are indebted to you for your quick mobilization and generous contributions.

    Our team, because of our deep roots in Haiti, was able to be among the first to respond with emergency medical services. Since the first days, our staff has stepped up to take on the challenge of serving the most vulnerable in Port-au-Prince and of providing comprehensive care ranging from basic primary care to complicated surgical services at our sites in the Central Plateau and Artibonite Valley. Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer wrote yesterday, "We find that years of investment in building a strong local partner organization mean that we are again in the position of responding effectively to a natural disaster. We are very proud of our team."

    All of this work-our years of investment and our ability to respond is made possible because of people like you who do not become paralyzed in the face of suffering but rather stand up and help serve.

    Yesterday, Dr. Farmer arrived in Port-au-Prince to check in with our team and to meet with Government and UN officials. Since his visit, we have already seen the tide begin to change - this morning, the PIH/Zanmi Lasante team was designated by the World Health Organization to serve as the coordinators of the public hospital, Hopital de l' Universite d'Etat d'Haiti (HUEH), where thousands are suffering in need of medicines and surgeries. In this new role, we will be supporting the administration and staff and recruiting other NGOs to help restore services, particularly triage, nursing, and surgical, at the city's central hospital. Our priority is to increase stock of medicines and supplies, ensure steadily functioning operating rooms, and guarantee sufficient medical staff is available, particularly for nursing care to help with post-op recovery, iv management, and other care that has had to be self managed over the past three days.

    With supply chains in place and flights arriving more consistently in Port-au-Prince since the air traffic control has been reinstated, today has already been a turning point in our ability to respond to the enormity of the devastation and really get the field hospitals and public hospitals up and running. We have two planes of surgeons and surgical supplies arriving within hours, we have fuel on its way to Haiti through the DR, and we are reallocating supplies from our ten sites to where they are needed most on a regular basis.

    It is clear to us all that relief for Haiti must rely on our collective immediate response and our sustained long-term commitment to building back better. Our approach to health care delivery in resource-poor settings-partnering with the public sector, employing locally, and investing for the long-term-is a key part of the solution for Haiti now and in the future. We hope that you will continue to stand with Haiti now and in the months and years to come.

    Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis."

  • Give up a hair cut; Get someone a water filter

    Filter Pure issued a challenge to women to give up a hair cut and use that money to purchase a life-saving water filter for someone in Haiti. Lisa Ballantine, the Executive Director of FilterPure figures that the average cost of a haircut for a woman is $30. I actually think that's a low estimate, at least for the Bay area in California. She is in Port-au-Prince helping out with disaster relief. Overwhelmed by the scope of the tragedy, she issued this statement:

    "I am calling on the women of American for help! Consider this fact: the average women in the U.S. will spend $30 at minimum on a haircut. $30 will provide a Haitian family with a water filter that will provide them with safe clean water for 5 years!! I am calling on all American women to consider donating $30, the cost of a haircut to provide a lifesaving water filter to a family affected by the tragic earthquake. I am calling on all American women to help me to bring attention to this message and help me to raise awareness. As a demonstration of my love, commitment and devotion to this project, I will be shaving my head Saturday on the street in Port-au-Prince. Please consider making a donation and asking others to do the same. When my head is shaved, I will be wearing my special bandana hoping to draw attention to the cause. You can also purchase a bandana for $3 of promote this effort of bringing safe clean water to the families and children of Haiti. Please watch my head shaving ceremony on the video section of the website www.filterpurefilters.org on Saturday for the ceremony."

    Lisa already shaved her head. You can see the results on the FilterPure website.

  • Shigellosis on the Rise in Haiti

    Shigella is a bacteria that thrives where basic sanitation and clean drinking water are not. Right now, that's Haiti. People who lost their homes are living in tent cities. Waste is accumulating. Water is hard to find. (Photo from Defending Food Safety.)

    The New York Times reports:

    "The problem has become impossible to overlook in many districts of Port-au-Prince, with the stench of decomposing bodies replaced by that of excrement. Children in some camps that are still lacking latrines and portable toilets play in open areas scattered with the waste. The light rains here this week caused some donated latrines in the camps to overflow, illustrating how the problem would grow more acute as the rainy season intensified in the months ahead."

    The earthquakes may be over, but Haiti still needs help. In fact, the place was in need of severe help before the earthquake. Stand With Haiti, donate to Partners in Health. They've been on the scene for many years and are still there.