On the 10th year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, we recognize the excellent work being done by organizations like Partners In Health and Regis College. Appreciation of their accomplishments is important. Not only are these organizations among the most effective working in Haiti, they are transforming and challenging the donor community through their example. This example focuses on long-term systemic investments in partnership with local government.
Post-earthquake, a long-term outlook was sometimes met with skepticism. The need for immediate action in the aftermath of the disaster, concerns about corruption, and an assumed lack of local expertise were sometimes cited as counter-arguments for the type of work organizations like Partners In Health advocated for. Specifically, rebuilding Haiti’s entire healthcare system to meet international standards was called “unrealistic” and, therefore, wasteful. Time, however, has provided perspective which validates this approach.
While short-term actions are necessary to respond to a crisis, long-term, systemic investment is the only way to end it. High profile post-earthquake analysis has highlighted many shortcomings of the emergency response. In contrast, the recent accreditation of PIH-supported University Hospital in Mirebalais, affirming it meets the highest global standards, proves that sustained investment in partnership with the government is not wasteful and, in fact, leads to lasting change.
As PIH joins the effort to build a national health system, other organizations, like Regis College, are supporting health equity through their own unique educational programs. By training health educators and professional nursing staff, Regis College is strengthening a resilient healthcare community, which is essential for a national system. The existence of a long-term, systemic commitment to health equity means that even highly-focused programs can work in support of larger goals.
Looking towards the next decade, the path forward is clear: long-term investment to strengthen the local systems is essential and proven. Partners In Health and Regis College deserve credit for having the foresight to embrace this outlook and they will, undoubtedly, continue to stand out for their effective work in realizing health equity in Haiti.
Charlotte R. Cramer Wagner
Founder & CEO