Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti needs help

If you'd like to, consider making a donation to Doctor's Without Borders-Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Amazingly, some wealthy celebrities have donated a few million to the MSF, campaign, as well as many small donations- their website says this:

We are incredibly grateful for the generous support from our donors for the emergency in Haiti.

MSF has been working in Haiti for 19 years, most recently operating three emergency hospitals in Port-au-Prince, and is mobilizing a large emergency response to this disaster. Our immediate response in the first hours following the disaster in Haiti was only possible because of private unrestricted donations from around the world received before the earthquake struck. We are currently reinforcing our teams on the ground in order to respond to the immediate medical needs and to assess the humanitarian needs that MSF will be addressing in the months ahead.

We are now asking our donors to give to our Emergency Relief Fund. These types of funds ensure that our medical teams can react to the Haiti emergency and humanitarian crises all over the world, particularly neglected crises that remain outside the media spotlight. Your gift via this website will be earmarked for our Emergency Relief Fund.

Your gift to Doctors Without Borders is tax-deductible.

They are asking for general donations, as the Haiti earmarked funds have generously funded the medical care needed in Haiti for now.

The biggest hurdle, seems to be getting access.

MSF has inflatable hospital capability, to set up 100 beds & perform surgeries. The photo below is a 2005 picture from a set up in Pakistan- 7 tents, the Haiti set up will have 9 tents.

It's not just as easy as sending aid-

What about other logistical factors required for surgery – water, electricity?

We have roughly a week’s worth of water in stock and we have generators for electricity. The hospital is coming fully logistically equipped, including sanitation, x-ray machines, everything. It's a kind of plug and play hospital.

But a big issue will be the supply of fuel. We cannot find any diesel fuel in the city. At the MSF projects I am in touch with, today we have roughly two to three days maximum of fuel in stock. So we need to start work on an emergency supply chain, either from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, or from Miami, we don't know yet which will be the best way.

Are there still a lot of problems with air transport?

Air transport is still very difficult. The main issue is the limited capacity of the Port-au-Prince airport. It cannot admit more than certain number of planes on the ground at one time and landings have to stop when that number is reached, and if some planes stay on the ground longer than expected, you have delays. Because of damage and lack of lighting, the airport does not have landings at night, so you have half as many hours as normal to arrive. I don't know when that will be resolved. It means you have to spend a lot of time contacting the authorities, pushing people to allow our plane to land.

With such a huge need for food and water in Port-au-Prince, will MSF be addressing these needs?

Basically you have 3 million people with no more access to food, water, or sanitation. It's a huge challenge and while we cannot help the whole city, it is likely that MSF will be able to address part of this problem. We are not providing water right now, but when we do, we will need to establish some water sources that are accessible and not contaminated. As a second step we will need to think about other strategies, perhaps drilling boreholes or water treatment - maybe treating salt water since it is by the ocean.

Recent shipments via air were not able to land in Port-au-Prince, and were rerouted to Samana, Dominica. They lose a day of being able to get urgent medical treatment & supplies to where they are needed, but they are working through these issues. Hopefully the US military can get lighting to the airport, and get the airport landings coordinated.... so medical teams can get immediate access.

Once large cargo airplanes land, it takes time to unload supplies they carry. The Port itself is damaged & unusable.

FACT: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty.

The Red Cross is in it for the long run... makes $100 MILLION DOLLAR APPEAL

But Red Cross spokesman, Matthew Cochrane, tells VOA, the needs of people go beyond the immediate emergency response and that is what its $100 million appeal is meant to address.

"Lives have been absolutely destroyed. Houses have been destroyed. Community infrastructure has been absolutely destroyed and we are very much committed to being involved in the rebuilding of Haiti once the relief operation winds down in six to nine months," he said.

Cochrane says the Red Cross is making progress in getting together all the elements needed to scale up its humanitarian operation. In the past couple of days, he says two planes carrying 22 tons of aid landed in the Haitian capital, Port au Prince.

He says a convoy of aid supplies, including a 50-bed field hospital, and disaster experts arrived overland from the Dominican Republic.

He says the earthquake victims are in desperate need of food, water, medical assistance and shelter. In the coming weeks, he says the Red Cross will concentrate much of its effort on providing clean water. He says this is crucial to reduce the risk of waterborne and water-related diseases.

"Dysentery, diarrheal diseases. These were threats that were probably with the Haitians even before the earthquake," he said. "Now that this damage, that last bit of infrastructure, that last bit of social support, there are huge concerns that we will see outbreaks of entirely treatable and preventable, but nevertheless, very deadly illnesses. And, so that has to be a focus," he said.

Up to now, international aid operations have been centered on the capital, Port-au-Prince. But, little attention has been given to the outlying areas because of the difficulty of reaching them.

Cochrane says the Red Cross has some preliminary assessments of the severity of the damage caused by the earthquake in three places. He says aid workers report between 80-90 percent of the town of Leogane has been destroyed.

In Gressier, up to 50 percent of the town has been destroyed and in Carrefour, he says there are reports of people still being trapped in collapsed buildings.

Make donations to the Red Cross

Just make sure they are specifically EARMARKED FOR HAITI RELIEF, or the funds can be used in other areas.

Also the Red Cross donation site has a link to companies that do donation fund matching.... so see if your employer might double up your contribution.

In other news I was happy to see my employer, which has a private yet commercial beach destination in Northern Haiti ( not effected by the earthquake), is donating $1 Million in relief aid, as well as using their ships to deliver humanitarian aid.

In the midst of such a catastrophic disaster- It is heartening to see the worldwide community pull together to help in Haiti's time of need. Even small donations will help.


Fran said...

widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs

Glad to see the Red Cross is viewing this as a long term project that will take many years.

nonnie9999 said...

doctors without borders is a wonderful organization. i would never give a penny to the red cross. i remember my uncle telling me that, when he was in the hospital for a year after he was wounded and almost killed in the battle of the bulge, the red cross charged for every little thing. he said the salvation army was wonderful and never asked for a dime. in addition, after hurricane wilma, we had no power or drinking water on tap for 2 weeks, and the entire area was a mess (not compared to haiti, but a mess nonetheless). we had to stand on line at a park for water. the red cross had people there, and all they did was take surveys. they walked around with clipboards and asked certain people questions (never did find out why they picked the people they picked to ask). that's the only time i saw the red cross around, and they were not the ones supplying the water. they were totally worthless here. i donated to shelter box, and there are tons of really good charitable places to donate to. the red cross, in my humble opinion, is not one of them. other people might have different experiences with them.