As the full tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath emerges, there will be many very painful lessons to be learned. Why were so many key public buildings so vulnerable? Why weren’t there sufficient stockpiles of food, bottled water, sterile bandages, antibiotics, painkillers? Nor enough fuel for generators, transport and heavy lifting equipment? Why so little public education about what to do? Why was there such an apparent lack of contingency planning?
One underlying problem is that Haiti is such a poor country with a relatively fragile infrastructure at the best of times. The government can’t afford all the stockpiling, set-aside and duplication needed for really robust resilience. Another problem is the chronic underinvestment in its health service – hospitals, health centres and preventive programmes.
The massive inpouring of aid and expertise will help to get Haiti back on its feet in the coming days, weeks and months – although the shadow of suffering will remain for generations. Hope for the people must come in the knowledge that, as the rawness of this tragedy slowly fades, there could arise from the rubble a new stronger Haiti. An opportunity to rebuild the nation’s communities, public services, government and economy.
An essential part of this renaissance must be Haiti’s health system. The global health community will do what it can to help in this new beginning. We at the UK Faculty of Public Health, directly and through our members, will willingly work with the people of Haiti, its public health leaders, its government and international agencies, to help develop a more robust and resilient public health system and more effective public health programmes in the years ahead.
To help us turn this intention into action please contact our Head of International Development: email@example.com