Hospitals & Asylums   






Haitian Earthquake Relief: $2.3 billion est. HA-12-1-10


A magnitude-7.0 quake struck Haiti at 4:53 p.m. Tuesday, January 12, 10 miles west of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.  Experts say the quake's epicenter was very shallow at a depth of only 6.2 miles, which was likely to have magnified the destruction.  A US Geological Survey geophysicist called it, “the strongest earthquake in Haiti since 1770…there are only about a dozen 7.0 earthquakes annually and this unfortunately happened near a densely populated area…this occurred as the result of the grinding of tectonic plates, this is an earthquake prone area although it is has not been affected recently.  The aftershocks are of moderate size and can cause further damage and hinder rescue efforts”.  The quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and in eastern Cuba, but no major damage was reported in either place.


A Haitian immigrant reported that Port-au-Prince “has a population 2 million, with 4 million in the surrounding area, so the death toll could be severe”.  Asked by a CNN reporter how many people had died, President Rene Preval replied "I don't know", adding "up to now, I heard 50,000 ... 30,000."  Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN that he's worried the death toll could climb into the hundreds of thousands.  He said. "Because we have so many people on the streets right now, we don't know exactly where they were living. But so many, so many buildings, so many neighborhoods totally destroyed, and some neighborhoods we don't even see people."  Haitians wandered broken streets in a daze, or tried to rescue people trapped under rubble. The local Red Cross said it was overwhelmed.  Much of the National Palace was flattened, but Haiti's ambassador to Mexico, Robert Manuel, said President Rene Preval and his wife survived the earthquake. Haiti's cathedral was destroyed and media reports said the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, had been found dead in the wreckage of the archdiocese office. 


Most Haitians are desperately poor, and after years of political instability the country has no real construction standards. In November 2008, following the collapse of a school in Petionville, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated about 60 percent of buildings were shoddily built and unsafe in normal circumstances. Sometimes, early predictions of death tolls are overestimated. After the 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran officials estimated that 50,000 or more residents were killed. That death toll was later revised down to 26,000. At other times, they're low or close to accurate. For instance, after the Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean that triggered massive tsunamis, Indonesian officials released a toll of 13,000 for the island of Sumatra the day after the event, raised that figure to 26,000 on Dec. 29 and said that 96,000 were dead and 132,000 were still missing a month later. The final, official toll was 220,000.


Often referred to as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is ill-equipped to respond to such a disaster, lacking heavy equipment to move debris and sufficient emergency personnel.  Raymond Alcide Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to Washington, said "I am appealing to the world, especially the United States, to do what they did for us back in 2008 when four hurricanes hit Haiti, at that time the U.S. dispatched ... a hospital ship off the coast of Haiti. I hope that will be done again ... and help us in this dire situation that we find ourselves in."  FEMA– Hurricane/ Haitian Insurance HA-29-9-04 reaffirmed the responsibility of the United States to insure the health and welfare of the Haitian people against the loss caused by natural disaster, not to mention the outstanding obligation to the equitable international development of the Western hemisphere, and outlines the organizational structure of US emergency relief efforts.


U.S. President Barack Obama called the quake an "especially cruel and incomprehensible" tragedy and pledged swift, coordinated support to help save lives. The Pentagon was sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and three amphibious ships, including one that can carry up to 2,000 Marines. Americans seeking news about family members in Haiti can call 1-888-407-4747, set up by the U.S. Department of State.  The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Southern Command have started to coordinate. USAID said it was sending a disaster assistance response team and had activated its partners, the Fairfax County (Va.) Urban Search and Rescue Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team. USAID disaster experts also would assist.


The United Nations said $10 million would be released immediately from its central emergency response fund and it would organize a flash appeal to raise more money for Haiti over the next few days.  The United States, China and European states were sending reconnaissance and rescue teams, some with search dogs and heavy equipment, while other governments and aid groups offered tents, water purification units, and food and telecoms teams. The UN's 9000 peacekeepers in Haiti, many of whom are from Brazil, were distracted from aid efforts by their own tragedy: Many spent the night hunting for survivors in the ruins of their headquarters for more than 100 missing people of whom only 10 had been pulled out, many badly injured. Fewer than five bodies had been pulled from the rubble, he said.  Brazil's army said at least four of its peacekeepers were killed and five injured, while Jordan's official news agency said three of its peacekeepers were killed and 33 injured. A state newspaper in China said eight Chinese peacekeepers were known dead and 10 were missing - though officials later said the information was not confirmed.


Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said its three hospitals in Haiti were unusable and it was treating the injured at temporary shelters. "The reality of what we are seeing is severe traumas, head wounds, crushed limbs, severe problems that cannot be dealt with the level of medical care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it," said Paul McPhun, operations manager for the group's Canadian section. The University of Miami School of Medicine sent a plane full of doctors and nurses to set up a field hospital and planned to fly a group of critically injured people to Miami for treatment on Wednesday.  Major relief organization accepting donations for quake victims are Save the Children, UNICEF, The American Red Cross, Direct Relief International, Mercy Corps, Americare and Doctors without Borders.  A number of groups are allowing generous souls to help Haitians just by pressing a few buttons on their cell-phone.  Foremost among them at the moment is hip hop star Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti charity where you can text YELE to 501501 to give $5 to help with earthquake relief efforts.  The US State Department seems to favor the Red Cross, where you can text "HAITI" to "90999" to donate $10 to the Red Cross. The donations are added to your cell-phone bill. 


Under 42USC(68)§5170B-3 essential assistance programs are categorized as follows;
(A) debris removal;
(B) search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine, and other essential needs, including movement of
supplies or persons;
(C) clearance of roads and construction of temporary bridges necessary to the performance of emergency tasks and essential community services;
(D) provision of temporary facilities for schools and other essential community services;
(E) demolition of unsafe structures which endanger the public;
(F) warning of further risks and hazards;
(G) dissemination of public information and assistance regarding health and safety measures;
(H) provision of technical advice to State and local governments on disaster management and control; and
(I) reduction of immediate threats to life, property, and public health and safety.
The response to the earthquake in Haiti should be coordinated by the Haitian government that is responsible for compiling the official statistics and damage estimates as well as the regulation and discipline 
of relief efforts.  The people are surely engaged in heroic efforts to pull people from the rubble.  It may be necessary to relocate people, without another place to go, from Port-au-Prince, to refugee camps 
in the surrounding countryside to prevent outbreaks of disease.  Every effort should be made to allow people to fix and return to their homes but the people and government must ensure that communities 
are safe from aftershocks and hygienic if people are to live there.  The Haitian government should staff a central contract number for people in need of assistance or direction to call and be informed of 
where and when food, shelter, medical care and financial services are dispensed.   International relief organizations, humanitarian missions and Haitian professionals and officials are highly encouraged 
to be generous in their relief efforts.  They are encouraged to bring food, medicine, clothing, blankets, tents, transport vehicles, light and heavy machinery for clearing the rubble as well as home repair 
and construction supplies.   Haitian customs should be fully staffed to document the movement of people and goods across the border and coordinate relief efforts.
International relief efforts should target those people affected by the earthquake in and around Port-au-Prince.  It is estimated that 30,000 to 50,000 people died and can be extrapolated that more than 
100,000 were wounded and that as many as 2 million people are homeless as the result of the partial or total destruction of their homes.  International donation coordination should aim to pay survivor 
benefits of $1,000 (less burial and sanitation), hospital benefits of $2,500 and unemployment benefits of $1,000.  Financial institutions should ensure people have access to small and large loans for 
home, business and institution reconstruction, international reconstruction loans should be financed through the central bank so as not to incur any loss of national sovereignty or predatory lending 
domestically.  The overall sum of humanitarian assistance that is hoped to be levied by international donors can therefore be estimated at $2.3 billion plus another $10 billion in mixed grants, loans 
and materials for reconstruction.  This is essentially a worst case estimate but $2.3 billion would definitely be subsumed by the reconstruction effort and is a good goal.