Remarkable Progress Five Years After Haiti Earthquake

Five years after the devastating earthquake in 2010 left millions in need of urgent medical care, Haiti has made significant progress toward rebuilding the national public health system. Working with the Haitian government, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners have made progress toward the reconstruction of the public health sector to establish disease surveillance systems, enhance laboratory capacity, and develop human capacity in clinical services, epidemiology, and public health leadership. 

Today Haiti has more disease detectives to quickly detect outbreaks and effectively respond; over 250 water and sanitation technicians to help rural areas improve drinking water; more vaccinated children; and new Ministry of Health facilities for laboratory, epidemiology and research staff. 

“Particularly since the earthquake in 2010, CDC has made significant investment in the national laboratory and disease surveillance systems in Haiti” said David Lowrance, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Haiti office. “These systems and capacities are vital to preventing, detecting, and responding to public health threats before they become crises and to protecting the health of the Haitian people and the global community.” 

Disease control efforts by CDC and its national and international partners have led to significant advances in efforts to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis from Haiti, as well as gains in access to tuberculosis treatment services and access to improved water and sanitation facilities. Today, 87 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Haiti receive treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies, one of the highest rates in the developing world. 

Haiti has made significant progress but much more is needed. “There is a cohort of children who have been missed by the routine immunization program; outbreaks of epidemic diseases still occur; and progress has been slow and limited in restoring the physical health infrastructure,” said Dr. Lowrance. 

After the earthquake, existing HIV/AIDS programs enabled CDC’s Haiti office to rapidly expand its mission through post-earthquake investments. 

“Following the earthquake, CDC expanded the partnership with the people of Haiti to not only support their fight against HIV/AIDS, but to support reconstruction and rebuilding of the health system and to respond to the subsequent cholera epidemic,” noted Tom Kenyon, M.D., M.P.H., CDC’s director of global health. 

This synergy has enabled implementation of other activities related to global health security, including capacity building for the prevention, detection, and response to potential epidemic diseases and natural disasters. 

“Haiti has a lot to be proud of in the health sector and we look forward to continuing this work and to helping sustain the gains Haiti has made over the last five years,” Lowrance said. 

For more information, Waters statement on the 5th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake

Congresswoman Maxine Waters released a statement on the fifth anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Following the earthquake, Rep. Waters led the efforts in Congress to ensure the cancellation of Haiti’s international debts and support free and fair elections. She also worked with her colleagues to address the cholera epidemic and provide oversight of the earthquake recovery funding. 

“Five years ago today, a devastating earthquake brought Haiti to the brink. With 230,000 people dead and 1.3 million people displaced from their homes, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti culminated into one of world’s most costly and deadly natural disasters in recent memory. The 2010 earthquake cost the people of Haiti dearly but it did not break their soul. The perseverance and resolve of Haitians to rebuild their nation in the wake of seemingly insurmountable obstacles is one of the most compelling narratives of our generation. 

“Though much has been done in the effort to rebuild the country, much more is needed to ensure Haiti has a viable housing sector, a growing economy, a reliable healthcare system and the political stability to bring Haiti back to a better state. As I have done so many times prior, I urge the international community to play a role in rebuilding Haiti. I stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti and remain a vocal advocate in support of the country’s economic and political recovery.”

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