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U.S. Government Officials and Haitian Ministry of Health Discuss Next Phase of Medical and Public Health Support in Haiti

February 24, 2010

Response focuses on addressing public health risks and building capacity within Haiti to provide ongoing care for earthquake survivor:

Dr. Ron Waldman, U.S. Government Medical/Health Emergency Coordinator, Rear Admiral Alton ‘Mike’ Stocks, Joint Task Force Haiti Surgeon, and the Haitian Ministry of Health discussed the changing medical and public health needs in Haiti as a result of the January 12 earthquake.

“We are in the process of moving from a response that focused primarily on taking care of patients who were injured in the earthquake to one that prevents the widespread occurrence of communicable diseases, that provides people with decent living conditions, and that hopefully will be able to restore Haitians to a more normal social, economic, and political life,” said Dr. Waldman.  As part of this process, the U.S. remains fully committed to ensuring that Haitian health care facilities can build on the U.S. and international assistance provided over the last several weeks, and, with the support of NGOs, meet the medical needs of the population.  “We do so with the full understanding that this will be a long process that will require the full cooperation and coordination of the international community but that, fundamentally, it must be led by the Haitian people and their government,” Waldman said. 

Rear Admiral Stocks discussed how civilian partners are increasing their medical capabilities, in both the Haitian government as well as nongovernmental organizations.

“A great example of our success is the steady decline of patients convalescing onboard the hospital ship, USNS COMFORT,” said Rear Admiral Stocks.  “Over the last ten days we have seen over a 65% reduction in the number of patients as they transfer to home or local hospitals. 

The U.S. continues to work with the Haitian government, and the international community, to build capacity within Haiti to provide ongoing care for earthquake survivors, and address the threat of potential public health hazards from overcrowding, poor sanitation, and the coming rain season.