Partners In Health: Sun., 1/24 Report from Haiti

Jan 24, 2010, 16:45 ET from Partners In Health

*** PIH spokespeople in Haiti and Boston available to provide additional insight on the situation ***

BOSTON, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Early this morning, Partners In Health co-founder and Executive Director Ophelia Dahl filed a report from Haiti, where she is currently visiting PIH operations in Port-au-Prince and at the 12 functioning facilities outside the capital city that have served as the foundation of our response to the disaster. Her report highlighted the remarkable progress that has been made, the enormous challenges that remain, and the mid- and long-term strategy PIH has developed:

"The scene  [at University Hospital in Port-au-Prince] is truly impressive in so many ways. Medical tents are lined up in a row, and, inside, beds and stretchers lie close together, most patients are post surgery, bandaged or in casts. They are now receiving narcotics. Operating rooms up and running now 24 hours a day.... [Paul Farmer] and I headed to Cange [where PIH opened its first clinic 25 years ago] following our meeting. We went first to visit the church, which has probably 70 patients lying on mattresses in rows on the floor. All of them have casts on limbs or white bandages over their stumps. Dressings are changed every day by Haitian staff and volunteers and need to be changed for weeks to come. In the corner of the church is an overflow pharmacy; the piano has become a worktop and medicines cover the altar. Docs round on the patients. And, as always, relatives help their loved ones with simple tasks. There is mostly quiet, no one is talking much, but there is a sense of community."

Ophelia Dahl will remain in Haiti for several more days before returning to Boston. We hope to be able to arrange some interviews with her while she's there. She will definitely be available for interviews after she returns.

The latest developments as reported by the PIH team in Haiti and Boston this morning

  • Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante (our Haitian partner organization) are expanding outreach into neighborhoods around Port-au-Prince. Our team on the ground has developed a strategy to bring medical care and essential social and economic services such as clean water, food, shelter, and jobs to people who had little before the earthquake and now have almost nothing. Over the next few days, PIH plans to expand efforts that were launched immediately after the earthquake in several neighborhoods into a total of 10 communities, where local youths will be trained and employed to do community outreach and organize mobile clinics at which Zanmi Lasante medical staff will treat patients with relatively minor injuries, transport more seriously wounded people to hospitals, and vaccinate everyone against tetanus, which threatens to become the next major threat to the lives of earthquake victims. The mobile clinic teams will also provide truckloads of clean water, which has been unavailable throughout the city since the quake.

  • PIH Medical Director Joia Mukherjee arrived back in Boston early Sunday morning. She had been working non-stop since landing in Haiti 48 hours after the earthquake, coordinating PIH's emergency response and working with Haitian colleagues to formulate a strategy for long-term reconstruction. Meeting with PIH headquarters staff virtually straight off the plane, she declared, "You guys have saved thousands of lives. We have supplied and staffed 20 operating rooms able to do emergency surgery. From zero to 20 within days is an amazing accomplishment." We discussed our overall strategy to expand and strengthen the response in three areas of need: surgical capacity in Port-au-Prince; surgical and post-operative capacity at our facilities in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite; and a community-based strategy to reach people who are not coming to hospitals because "they don't have money to get to hospitals and don't want to leave their few remaining possessions in the street." Interviews with Dr. Mukherjee can be arranged through the PIH Communications Department. Interviews can also be arranged with members of a surgical team that returned to Boston over the weekend.

  • James Taylor performed a second sell-out concert to support Haiti and Partners In Health on Saturday, January 23, at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, MA. The two concerts and the telethon hosted by WAMC (an NPR radio station at Albany Medical College) on Friday raised close to $500,000. Numerous other benefit concerts and events are scheduled during the coming week, including N. 6th For Haiti, a concert featuring The Roots and many other artists that will take place on Wednesday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with all proceeds going to Partners In Health.


Founded in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, Partners In Health (PIH) is an international health care organization based in Boston that works in 12 countries to deliver high quality health care and to break the cycle of disease and poverty.

PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is one of the largest health care providers in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley.

PIH had more than 100 doctors, 600 nurse and 4,000 employees on the ground in Haiti working from 12 existing PIH medical facilities in Haiti before the earthquake struck on January 12th.

STAND WITH HAITI: PIH Immediate Response to Earthquake in Haiti

  • PIH quickly established field hospitals in Port-au-Prince, and currently has 20 operating rooms up and running, with 12 functioning 24-hours a day.  PIH has been designated by the World Health Organization to serve as the primary coordinators of University Hospital in Port-au-Prince (HUEH).

  • PIH established a relief transfer system to transfer patients from Port-au-Prince (HUEH) to PIH sites in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite Valley, which includes 12 clinical facilities already treating patients.

  • PIH was one of the first NGOs to evacuate patients in critical condition to hospitals in the United States and Dominican Republic and is now coordinating the evacuation of patients in critical condition to the United States Naval Ship, the U.S.S. Comfort.

  • PIH has sent 22 plane loads with more than 140 medical volunteers – orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical nurses and other medical professionals – and several thousand pounds of medical supplies to support the more than 4,500 PIH health care providers already in Haiti.

  • The long-term ramifications in Haiti are going to be significant and far-reaching with a new, large group of vulnerable and displaced people. PIH has the experience and commitment to Stand with Haiti for many years to come.

Media Contacts:

Andrew Marx, 617-998-8977, (

Meredith Eves, 617-998-8977, (

SOURCE Partners In Health