Dear HHF Community,
While much of the world is currently dealing with multiple, unfolding crises, global eyes have once again turned to another disaster in Haiti.
On August 14, at 8:29 AM, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck approximately midway through the southern peninsula. Although slightly greater than the 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince, the areas affected were significantly less populated. Nonetheless, as the days passed since last Saturday, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this was a natural disaster with widespread social, community and public health implications.
The two primary urban areas affected were Jeremie and Cayes, with the latter suffering much more structural damage, injuries and loss of life. Although it is currently estimated that earthquake-related mortalities are in excess of 2,200, it seems quite certain that this figure will rise in the days ahead.
Unlike the 2010 event, the geographical range of this earthquake extends quite far, especially in the context of multiple aftershocks, with some registered as greater than 5.0. Many, many locations throughout the Grand Anse, Nippes and Sud suffered various degrees of damage, with as yet undetermined injuries and loss of life.
The challenges of normal life for the majority of those living in the south of Haiti are significant, creating an oftentimes fragile state for many in the population. During the past year in particular, the conditions of survival in the Haitian environment have become extraordinarily harsh.
The physical, social and psychological stress of living under such conditions leaves most citizens vulnerable in nearly every way possible. In the context of the recent earthquake, it is not unreasonable to assume the worst in terms of the potential for a public health disaster at this time.
Unfortunately, due to its historically isolated status, disconnected from many basic health resources – nutritional, medical, sanitation, electrical, etc. – the majority in the southern peninsula is unprepared to manage any natural disaster. Despite such longstanding circumstances, there are a small number of organizations consistently and reliably committed to assisting the local population. Among those is HHF, now in the middle of this latest crisis, yet stronger than ever in the history of the organization to address the needs of the population in our region.
As we are certain you would agree, the Haitian people are no less deserving of lives filled with health and happiness than any others in the world. And the search for reasons for the current state of chaos and distress, whether social, political or spiritual, is not the job of HHF. Our job is to do all we can for those our organization is committed to serve, regardless of the disaster at hand or the conditions under which we must operate. With that in mind, we shall go forward, day by day, and do our best to meet the challenges with which we are all faced living and working in Haiti.
Thank you all for your continued efforts, support and good will.
Nadesha Mijoba, MS, MPH
Haiti Country Director