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Partners in Health: 'Stand with Haiti'

Posted: January 15, 2010 1:47 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2010 3:46 p.m.
 
As you are probably well aware, the situation in Haiti is dire. Following Tuesday's earthquake, the worst to hit Haiti in more than 200 years, untold thousands are dead, and even more are injured and an entire city struggles without adequate food, water or shelter.

As tremors continue, thousands sleep in the streets of Port-au-Prince and men, women and children with grave injuries await desperately needed medical care.

Partners In Health and its partner organization Zanmi Lasante has worked in Haiti for nearly twenty-five years, and today is one of the largest non-governmental health care providers in the country.

Its earthquake response has two main elements: First, they are sending staff and supplies to their 10 fully functioning hospitals and health centers just outside the city, so they can treat the injured and the sick as they arrive. Second, their doctors and nurses are setting up field hospitals to treat patients inside Port-au-Prince, where the devastation is greatest.

At this desperate hour, the natural question is: "What can I do?" Below are some answers to get you started:

1. Donate to the Partners in Health Earthquake Response Fund
(go to pih.org)
The first and most urgent need is money. In order to procure and ship large amounts of food, medicine, blankets and short-term shelters, Haiti needs an immediate and massive influx of financial resources. The greatest risk right now is that people will die of exposure to the cold, untreated injuries and illnesses, starvation or dehydration.

Zanmi Lasante facilities are placed just outside of Port-au-Prince and are already absorbing a flow of patients. Additionally, PIH clinicians have established mobile field hospitals in the center of Port-au-Prince and are staffing up emergency care and orthopedic surgery sites. Donations make it possible to quickly procure emergency medical supplies, basic living necessities and support for the tens of thousands of people that will be seeking care at these hospitals in and around the capital city. Any amount will help save lives.

Organize a "Stand With Haiti" fundraiser on campus, at work or in your community. Then, post your "Stand" on YouTube, Facebook, etc. to encourage others to do the same.

2. Spread the word
Send this message to your group listservs, friends and family. Sign up for e-mail updates from standwithhaiti.org, and share the link on your Facebook page, tweet it out to your followers on Twitter or include it in a blog. The more people who contribute, the more lives that can be saved in this critical period.

3. Recruit volunteer medical personnel
As patients flood to field hospitals in the city and rural health facilities, Partners In Health is in need of medical personnel with skills relevant to disaster settings. In particular, they need surgeons (especially trauma/orthopedic surgeons), ER doctors and nurses, and full surgical teams (including anesthesiologists, scrub and post-op nurses, and nurse anesthetists).

If you are a health professional interested in volunteering, please send an email to volunteer@pih.org with information on your credentials, language capabilities (Haitian Creole or French desired), availability and contact information. If you are not a health professional but know one who might be able to help, please forward this message to them.

As phone lines in Haiti remain down and transportation and communication are difficult, PIH is still in the process of determining how to transport patients and volunteers to sites. They will be able to offer more concrete information after these logistical matters are resolved.

4. Organize a drive for lifesaving materials and send them to the Afya Foundation in New York
(afyafoundation.org/haitiearthquake.html)
Partners in Health has partnered with the Afya Foundation, which is collecting desperately needed items to send to Haiti in shipping containers. Supplies should be sent to: Attn: Haiti Relief, 510 Nepperhan Ave, Yonkers, NY 10701.

Urgently needed supplies are: sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, towels, closed toed shoes, clothing, water purification tablets, electrolyte tablets, water, small water buckets, Ensure (or any liquid food supplement), respiratory masks, personal care items, gauze, bandages, IV cannuals, syringes, gloves, needles, Ringer's lactate, hand sanitizers, topical antiseptic, casting materials and cotton. Please be advised that the Afya Foundation cannot accept supplies which are expired or less than 5 months from expiration.

5. Call your senators and representatives to ask them to support relief efforts in Haiti
President Obama has already pledged at least $100 million in federal funds for the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. Call your representative and senators to ask them to support the efforts of the State and Defense Departments as they work with the government of Haiti to recover and rebuild.

This will be a long and difficult road, and our elected representatives need to know that we stand with the people of Haiti.

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