Beyond Recovery: Delivering Care Three Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Nearly three years after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, taking a quarter of a million lives and leaving millions more injured and homeless, Direct Relief continues to support the most vulnerable people in the country with essential medications and supplies that they otherwise would likely go without.

Backed by the massive generosity of private and corporate supporters, Direct Relief put together its most comprehensive humanitarian response in its 65-year history and has transformed its immediate disaster response into a commitment to making quality health care viable for the long term in Haiti – a country where Direct Relief has worked for almost 50 years.

The long road to building back better has been filled with lots of bumps. Less than a year after the earthquake, the first ever cholera outbreak in Haiti was recorded and quickly became epidemic. This fall, Hurricane Sandy devastated the island nation, causing severe flooding and damage and further exacerbating the number of cholera cases. Additionally, the World Health Organization reports that 80 percent of the drugs on Haiti’s essential medications list are not available to the population.

These are hard things to fix and improvements are slow, but there is progress.

More and better health services are available now to the people in Haiti than before the earthquake. Better emergency preparedness planning is in place. Permanent, high-quality medical solutions have been built for people in Haiti who can’t afford health care.

Recovery from the earthquake simply isn’t enough, which is why Direct Relief sustains the commitment to continue to work for as long as it takes to bring down the cost of delivering health services so more people in Haiti can receive the care they need to live happier, healthier lives.

Through strong partnerships with the Haitian Ministry of Health and more than 100 generous corporate donors, Direct Relief has provided $90 million worth of essential medical supplies to 115 Haitian hospitals treating four million patients across the country, most of whom cannot afford or acquire the medications they need. However, the true importance of these medications is not reflected in the overall value of donations, but in the thousands of lives that have been improved, and saved, as a result of them.

  • The $700,000 grant committed to Healing Hands for Haiti enabled them to fit more than 1,000 patients who suffered severe injuries from the earthquake with prosthesis and provide them with long-term rehabilitation care in a newly-built, state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital. They are now training more Haitians to become rehabilitation nurses and prosthetists so the future generations of persons with disabilities can be properly cared for.
  • More than 500 people with cataracts have the ability to see again, enabling them to work and care for their families as a result of the $5 million worth of state of the art eye equipment and medications donated by Alcon Labs.
  • The IV fluids, oral rehydration therapy, and IV tubing donated by Baxter, Hospira, Abbott, and BD have treated more than 150,000 people, or about one-fifth of the population affected by cholera. These items have been stored in Direct Relief’s in-country depot and are rapidly deployed within hours of a cholera outbreak and have served patients in every section of the country.
  • The provision of new equipment and supplies donated to six maternity hospitals around the country have allowed for more than 500 cesarean sections and more than 2,000 safe deliveries since the program began in August. Over the course of the next three years, more than 15,000 women will feel safe giving birth where Direct Relief has provided these upgrades.
  • The eight hurricane modules that were pre-positioned throughout the country in preparation for hurricane season were each deployed and utilized in the aftermath of cholera outbreaks and Hurricane Sandy which devastated Haiti in October. These modules had enough supplies and medications to treat over 40,000 people.

Over the course of the next week, continue to follow the blog for updates on specific programs and partners in Haiti as well as information about plans for 2013 and beyond.

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