HSPH faculty, alumni reflect on progress one year after Haitian earthquake

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HSPH’s Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, spoke to the Harvard Gazette about HHI’s response over the past year to the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which included a joint effort with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to manage a temporary field hospital on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The facility launched within 48 hours of the disaster and treated 2,000 patients before closing in May. To continue meeting the needs of rehabilitating patients and of Haitians living in a nearby displaced persons camp, HHI-led personnel opened Klinik Lespwa (Clinic of Hope), which transitioned to Haitian staff in November. This hands-on involvement expanded HHI’s traditional academic role, VanRooyen told the Gazette. Going forward, HHI will resume a research-based role in post-earthquake recovery and will continue to provide consultation to frontline organizations.

The Gazette article also quotes Joia Mukherjee, M.P.H. ’01, and David Walton, M.P.H. ’07, both members of the Harvard Medical School faculty and physicians at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, on the slow pace of recovery efforts.  They are working in Haiti with Partners In Health, a not-for-profit Harvard affiliate which has had a presence in Haiti since 1985. It was co-founded by Paul Farmer, the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor in the Department of Global Health and Population at HSPH.