92 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 21 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
General News    H3'ed 6/3/10

How Foreign Aid Is Ruining Haiti's Health Care System

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   2 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Georgianne Nienaber
Become a Fan
  (47 fans)

Copyrighted Image? DMCA

One of two Pediatric tents we visited

There is a sign in a damaged Petionville, Haiti bar that reads: "There are no truths, there are only stories." Let's begin by telling a story that may or may not reveal some truths about the stranglehold foreign aid has on Haiti's health care delivery system.

During our second trip to Haiti since the earthquake, we were on the premises of a hospital in Port-au-Prince called Hopital De L'Universite D'Etat D'Haiti (HUEH) when the rhythmical sound of women praying drew us to the perimeter of a sweltering tent where temperatures soared well into the 90-degree range. As the African writer Beryl Markham (West With the Night) suggested, it is "difficult to bring order out of memory. So, days later, the writer relied on notes, photos stored on the big Nikon, and video taken on a pocket Sony camera in order to revisit the tent. Surprisingly, a short, grainy video clip revealed the image of a critically ill infant waving a withered arm.

The waving arm was a surprise and the writer thought, "How wonderful that the infant waved at me," taking the gesture as proof that the suffering infant "needed" help that the American could offer in the way of a story. But this was not the truth of the matter.

The Women in white are praying over these critically ill children

When it came time to do an edit of the video, something else surfaced. There was a fly crawling across the face of the infant, circling the tube that ran into the baby's body through his nose. The congenitally deformed arm was trying to dislodge the fly. The baby was not "waving" at anyone, and it is doubtful that the strong, suffering baby with charts and papers piled in his crib "saw" anyone. The baby was a survivor, still struggling to defend himself from a fly, an invader willing to feed on his suffering.

The infant with the withered arm is Haiti. She is struggling in all of her suffering to wave the flies of foreign interference, hubris, and foreign aid feeders away from her face. For all of the "attention" and "aid" offered to Haiti, she has been abandoned as surely as the infant with the damaged arm.

"Why" the infant lies all but abandoned in a sweltering tent is partially the result of the January 12 earthquake, and partially the result of misplaced foreign aid, good intentions gone awry, as well as international greed, arrogance and incompetence.

Dr. Louis-Franck Telemaque is the Chief of Surgery at HUEH. An intense man, Telemaque speaks in terms of the hospital "before the quake" and "after the quake." He scrutinizes you as you take notes, and if the writer's eyes wander to gauge his demeanor, he demands to know if you are paying attention and writing down the bullet items, "one through five" that he presented. Telemaque has a message and he wants it heard.

Copyrighted Image? DMCA

Dr. Louis-Franck Telemaque, Chief of Surgery, in what remains of his office at Hopital De L'Universite D'Etat D'Haiti

We met with Telemaque after HUEH director, Dr. Alix Lassegue, gave us free reign on a tour of the hospital grounds and damaged buildings. What we saw would be intolerable conditions in the first world and reminded us of what we had seen in Congo, but worse. The emergency room had no surgical lights, transom windows providing minimal illumination. Only two sterile operating tables were functioning, since the original suite was heavily damaged in the earthquake. There is not enough film for radiography, no stretcher wipes, no surgical sterile wipes, no equipment wipes, no sheets and no way to wash them if they were available. Ultra sound gel is needed, as are towels, since there is no way to clean up blood and fluids after a trauma case passes through the emergency room.

Copyrighted Image? DMCA

Trauma "supplies"

The school of nursing is in complete ruins, and over one hundred students and teachers perished there. The diagnostic laboratory is housed in a tent donated by UNICEF. The lab has some equipment; much of it outdated donations from the CDC.

Copyrighted Image? DMCA

Laboratory Facilities

The pediatrics building was destroyed and this partially explains the tents with the praying women. There is simply no other facility to house critically ill babies and children. In a twist of fate, the OBGYN building survived, so children may enter this world under watchful eyes and good care, but if they fall ill the critical care facilities are far beyond what anyone in the United States would find "acceptable."

Non-sterile surgical suite

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Well Said 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Georgianne Nienaber Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram Page

Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Recently Leaked Documents Confirm Clinton Haitian Gold Scheme

Dian Fossey and the Gorilla Killings

Should the World Boycott the Beijing Olympics? The Horrific Story of the Falun Gong

Haiti Watch: Disease Threatens Infants and No Plans to Stop It

Murder, Mayhem and Mexican Mafia Stalk the Bakken Oil Fields

Bakken Oil: Fighting for Control of Fort Berthold and the Three Affiliated Tribes

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend