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U.S. Health Partners Play Key Role in Haiti Earthquake Response

Heath Workers in Haiti

For many years, the U.S. Government has been partnering with the people of Haiti in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In fiscal year 2009, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provided more than $125 million to support comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs in Haiti.

Following the tragic earthquake in Haiti, PEPFAR has been actively engaged in the response, working in support of larger U.S. Government efforts. PEPFAR is working particularly closely with several PEPFAR-supported partners who have been central to the response — Partners in Health, GHESKIO, AIDSRelief/University of Maryland, and the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS).

Partners in Health was one of the first responders to the earthquake. As their work in Haiti is outside of Port-au-Prince, their infrastructure is largely intact. They were one of the first groups to set up an emergency site at the University Hospital, and their hospitals outside of Port-au-Prince have been an important resource to transfer patients, including from the USNS Comfort. They have also established mobile sites in several informal settlements.

GHESKIO is the primary HIV/AIDS service delivery site in Port-au-Prince, and while their infrastructure was damaged, the damage was not catastrophic. They hosted two U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Disaster Medical Assistance units — a 35 person field triage and stabilization unit, and a 40-person International Medical Surgical Response Team. They continue to provide medication to approximately 7,000 patients with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. One week after the earthquake, GHESKIO received an emergency shipment of drugs to help ensure continuity of treatment.

AIDSRelief/University of Maryland dispatched a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. This mobilization was to staff and provide surgical services and critical medical support associated with complications of trauma at a partner hospital in Port-au-Prince, St. Francois de Salles. Subsequent teams will be deployed to address the longer-term health needs of those who have been affected by the earthquake.

SCMS is PEPFAR’s primary partner for health commodities and supplies in Haiti. Their infrastructure is also intact, including a warehouse of supplies and drugs, including antiretroviral drugs. SCMS assembled medical kits to supply hospitals and clinics, and working with the USAID health team in Haiti, conducted rapid assessments to assess damage to structures, loss of commodities, and any urgent and immediate needs. All of the sites that were assessed were functioning and there were sufficient HIV/AIDS and TB commodities.

The U.S. Government, through PEPFAR and the President’s Malaria Initiative, has worked closely with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to ensure our efforts are complementary, and that Global Fund grant programs in Haiti are being tailored to support continued programming, including antiretroviral treatment services. SCMS is facilitating the transport, warehousing and delivery of antiretroviral drug stocks to sub-recipients of Global Fund grants. They are continuing to document which sites are still functioning, which are not, and which emergency response sites may be taking responsibility in the interim.

Building on PEPFAR expertise, a team from SCMS has been working with the Government of Haiti and the Pan American Health Organization to support the large Promesse warehouse. Located near the airport, this warehouse holds all of the medical supplies intended to stock the clinics and hospitals that are providing care to earthquake victims.

More broadly, PEPFAR actively engaged the outpouring of support from companies and individuals, working with the NGO community and UN Health Cluster to effectively match high-value donations to the needs on the ground. And PEPFAR has been reaching out to other partners, including medical service providers and social support programs like those targeted to orphans and vulnerable children, to assess their status and needs.

The U.S. Government is deeply concerned about the welfare of children affected by the earthquake. Through PEPFAR and other child-centered programs, the U.S. Government has been and will continue to be actively involved in supporting programming targeting the survival, safety, and psychosocial needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Haiti. Under the leadership of UNICEF and in coordination with the Government of Haiti and other U.S. Government agencies, PEPFAR and our partners have been working with the international community to meet the immediate physical and health needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Haiti, such as providing appropriate nutrition for infants and children without breastfeeding possibilities.

In addition, PEPFAR is supporting efforts to reunify children with their families, because separating Haitian children from their extended families and their country of origin, particularly in time of trauma, can result in long-term harm above and beyond the devastation they have already experienced. The U.S. Government has made strengthening the capacity of families in Haiti to care for their children one of its highest priorities.

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