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“Together for Haiti”, two years after

January 15, 2012


The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, killed more than 220,000 people, affected 3.5 million others, and destroyed much of the vital infrastructure of a country that was already one of the poorest in the world (the Human Development Index ranks the country 145th out of 169).

©CARE - Raymond

After the disaster, there were 1.5 million IDPs. The latest figures published in December 2011 by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported nearly 520,000 people still living in camps. This mixed population consists of people who were already homeless or inadequately housed before the earthquake, and families without alternative housing since the disaster. The camp population is one of the most vulnerable in the affected area. Land ownership is a key challenge for reconstruction. The difficulties of governance, elections and the time required to form a new government have radically slowed reconstruction and development efforts.

From a health standpoint, a cholera epidemic broke out in October 2010 contaminating over 485,000 people. The rainy season caused a resurgence of the disease, and the cholera epidemic made the situation even more difficult for people and severely disrupted humanitarian aid.

Since the disaster, the main challenge for all humanitarian organizations has been to roll out sufficient resources to meet the vast needs of the population over the longer term.

Sanofi, together with its employees and the Sanofi Espoir Foundation stepped in after the disaster, sending medicines and vaccines worth €11 million. Another €2.015 million, including €450,000 in donations from employees, was also allocated to six NGO partners (International Medical Aid, Care, Red Cross, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde and UNICEF) to carry out emergency and post-emergency operations to support people in assuring better access to healthcare.

Two years after this tragedy, the Foundation and its NGO partners have met to learn from this crisis and examine possible improvements so that everyone’s actions complement the others in the interest of the people in need.

 


In the fields of logistics, reconstruction, equipment, counseling and rehabilitation, Handicap International has brought most of its areas of expertise on board to assist disaster victims. “Handicap International hopes to continue its activities in Haiti until the disabled can benefit from their rights.” Patrick Senia - Director of Development Operations.



Today, the reconstruction of Haiti's health system will have to ensure effective access to healthcare for the most vulnerable communities. To rebuild this health system, Médecins du Monde, which carried out 250,000 consultations and surgical procedures in 2011, supports free healthcare for pregnant women and children under five in Haiti as a first step towards a fair health system for all.


The situation in the camps is still worrying. While waiting for alternative housing, the French Red Cross has opted to stay in the camps and continue its aid mission while gradually introducing autonomy into the communities. The idea is to step up the capacities of the population and the local public and private services so as to avoid excessive dependence on humanitarian aid.
As long as there are people living in camps - and this will unfortunately last for years! - or in the rubble of a ruined neighborhood, we shall still have a job to do.” Professor Jean-François Mattei, President of the French Red Cross.


Alongside these emergency activities, PU-AMI has stepped up its activities to support children and young people living on the street, which have been ongoing since 2004. Every day two mobile clinics circulate through the areas where young people congregate. The clinics provide high-quality primary healthcare along with awareness campaigns on health, nutrition, hygiene, family planning, and reproductive health.

 


Women are often kept out of the reconstruction programs, yet they are central to the work of CARE by raising awareness about violence and reproductive health through the training of community groups, creating reception centers, and providing screening sessions for high-risk pregnancies.

 

Too few of the 4,316,000 children under the age of 18 can benefit from these opportunities to survive, develop and find protection. Although 2012 began with the formation of a new government and a long-awaited national budget, children still suffer from the many challenges facing the country, with its inadequate infrastructure, institutions and social system. UNICEF will continue to provide a combination of humanitarian aid and support for building institutional capacity to address the pressing recurring challenges that prevent the application of children’s rights.