Haiti: One Year Later

On January 12, 2010, one year ago today, Haiti's main city of Port-au-Prince was the epicenter of a massive earthquake that left millions of already poverty-stricken Haitians homeless and living in tent cities. Her Blueprint reported on Haiti throughout the past year with stories of hope from Human Rights Watch; reports of displacement and tuberculosis from public health expert and the United Nations Special Deputy Envoy to Haiti Paul Farmer; cited the publications created to voice the taboo: sexual violence against women mounting in the tent cities; then, finally the start of a cholera epidemic that according to the Huffington Post's Cholera in Haiti: A Look from the Trenches remains present. Pictured here are a mother and child being cared for by a female health worker in June 2010. As I write this, I wonder if they are alive. If so, their chances of still being displaced within a tent city are almost certain.

In a press release, Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer at Partners In Health, an organization leading the post-quake recovery that Paul Farmer founded, shared that current conditions remain rather "grim."

Today, we stand with our friends and colleagues from our Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante, and with millions of Haitians in Haiti and abroad to remember that terrible day -- to remember both those who died, and those who suffered and continue to face the painful reality of a Haiti post-January 12, 2010. This is particularly true for over a million internally displaced people living in crowded Port-au-Prince camps. Yet while there should be righteous indignation about the conditions in the camps, we must continue to highlight the plight of the urban and rural poor throughout Haiti whose struggle against poverty and injustice pre-dated the earthquake and has been made immeasurably more difficult by the disaster. The cholera epidemic -- due to lack of access to clean water and sanitation against a backdrop of malnutrition and inadequate health services in much of the country -- is a graphic illustration of the ongoing need. It is easy to understand that optimism would be in short supply. There are, however, glimmers of hope.

Along with the Haitian Ministry of Health and many partner organizations, Partners In Health calls for an international movement of solidarity, similar to the one that brought an end to South Africa's Apartheid. They also call for Haitians to become actors in rebuilding their country alongside the 10,000 NGOs and foreign-government projects so as to create "development of large-scale public infrastructure including health, education, water and sanitation that will reverse the impoverishment of the Haitian people."

One year later vast work remains to be done for those still living in abject poverty and far worse. Glimmers of hope need to be replaced by strategic long-term plans and bold action. Partners In Health one year report on Haiti is available here.

Photo credit: Doctors of the World UK