Comment from a Listener
- When I heard this piece on PRI's "The World," I was dismayed at the lack of any mention of Partners In Health. With her obvious interest in human rights and global health, and her years of living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, I'm sure reporter Amy Costello is familiar with the work done around the world by Partners in Health.
- PIH's work in Haiti was instrumental in the emergency medical response to the 2010 earthquake. They were one of the few medical aid organizations already "on the ground," as reporters and bureaucrats like to say, with a vast network of community health workers, trained volunteers, medical professionals, and supplies at the ready. Their response to the quake certainly saved thousands of lives. More to the point of Amy's story, Partners in Health had and has the expertise to properly respond to a medical emergency in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. To omit any mention of their work, their expertise, and their ongoing mission is striking, to say the least.
- Amy focused on some naive but well-meaning Americans who were horrified by what they found in Haiti, dismayed at the lack of supplies and equipment, and unprepared to perform procedures that were appropriate to the circumstances of their patients' lives. She asks an important question - how can we do better next time? - but, by keeping her focus on those who were unprepared and who made mistakes, she missed an opportunity to discover and communicate to her listeners what went right in the disaster response.
- Beyond their immediate response to the crisis - opening clinics in four of the camps for persons displaced by the quake, and providing vital support to the decimated Ministry of Health - Parters in Health doubled down on their community health work in response to the earthquake. Thanks to the incredible work of the volunteers and supporters of Zanmi Lasante (Kreyol for "Parterns in Health"), the 320-bed Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital is nearly completed, and scheduled to open next year. Partners in Health is working in Haiti, and in many other places, not just to "dispense aid," but to partner with people and communities to help develop true public health infrastructure and skills.
- I would encourage Amy and "The World" to do a follow-up report on Partners in Health, to provide some balance, and to show that not all the well-meaning volunteers were poorly trained and under-equipped.
- And, for those who've read this far, I encourage you to support Partners in Health. You can find them on the web at http: //www.pih.org
- [Full Disclosure: I'm a regular donor to Partners in Health, but am in no way affiliated with them beyond that.]
- -Steve Hoey