Partners In Health Haiti Earthquake Recovery

by Partners In Health (PIH)

"Improbably, the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people in Haiti has also helped bring Michelle and Marian a shot at a normal life."

Thank you for supporting Partners In Health, specifically our work to continue building long-term, quality health systems in Haiti in the years of recovery from the 2010 earthquake -- admist many other challenges. 

Please take a moment to read a heartwarming story about a complex surgery successfully carried out at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, constructed by Partners In Health in partnership with the Haitian government, as part of our response to the devastating 2010 earthquake.  

The generosity of supporters like yourself has enabled PIH to drastically improve the standard of care in Haiti and other resource-poor settings.  While there is much work to be done, the successful separation of conjoined twin sisters this past May is a shining example of what is now possible in rural Haiti:

Thank you so much for your support of Partners In Health (PIH) and our work to build back better in Haiti after the devastating earthquake that nearly destroyed the capital of Port au Prince in January of 2010.  With the help of supporters and partners, PIH and our sister organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante, have made great progress over the past five years. While there is still much to be done, we continue to look forward with optimism, knowing that together, we'll save and improve more lives every day. 

Please take a moment to watch and listen to a reflection from our Co-Founder Ophelia Dahl:

Ophelia Dahl: Haiti 5 Years after the Earthquake

Thank you again for your critical support. 


Above: MIREBALAIS, HAITI - APRIL 2, 2014:  Clinical Nurse Administrator Naomie Marcelin conducts rounds at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, with nurses Jeddidiah Claude Pierre, Carline Gerome, Marie Synndie Aime, Heraldine Aneas, and Abdonie Laguerre. (Photo by Rebecca E. Rollins / Partners In Health)


Partners In Health received an outpouring of generous support after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti (almost five years ago) from generous and caring people like yourself.  In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, we put those resources to use immediately with the construction of University Hospital in Mirebalais.  Today, University Hospital is an innovative, national teaching and referral hospital that is equipped to provide advanced, high-quality health care while training Haiti’s next generation of health professionals and driving economic growth throughout the region. 

Since the opening of Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (University Hospital) in March 2013, more than 100,000 uniquely registered patients have traveled across the country seeking treatment, surpassing our expectations. The facility represents a new opportunity for 3.4 million people, living within its catchment area, to access complex, life-saving services. But its impact extends well beyond the facility’s walls. Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante (our Haitian sister organization) has built an innovative, national teaching and referral hospital that provides specialist, high-quality health care while training Haiti’s next generation of health professionals and driving economic growth throughout the region.

University Hospital is one of Haiti’s largest public-private investments in health and has created 807 jobs directly. Approximately 70% of its staff are from communities in and around Mirebalais. Many live at home, but the hospital also offers housing to approximately 200 staff in its residences on campus and in houses in the community. University Hospital staff shop in local markets, eat at neighborhood restaurants and food stands, and invest in nearby housing. Their economic activity is stimulating growth and encouraging new business. Linda, a Mirebalais resident and mother of three who sells egg sandwiches, recently moved her stand just outside University Hospital and is now selling dozens of sandwiches each morning. 

Researchers from PIH/ZL and the Haitian Ministry of Planning’s Centre de Techniques de Planification et d'Économie Appliquée have quantified the ‘multiplier effect’ University Hospital has across sectors of the Haitian economy; they found that for every $1 invested into University Hospital, $1.82 is returned to the local economy. This analysis does not take into account other important benefits associated with University Hospital, including benefits to the economy resulting from a healthier population and workforce, benefits to patients who receive high-quality care regardless of their ability to pay, and long-term benefits for the Haitian health care sector through University Hospital’s academic training and mentorship programs.

We thank you for your continued support, which enables us to continue providing high-quality health care to the poorest of the poor in Haiti. 

Photo: Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health
Photo: Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health

A Focus on Mental Health

Following the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, demand for mental health services spiked as millions coped with catastrophic loss. More broadly, the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, depression alone will be the leading cause of disability around the world. With partners like you to thank, PIH clinicians have provided more than 3,500 patients in Haiti with the mental health services they need. And around the world, we’re working to deliver this high-quality care to the poor, vulnerable people who often need it most.

One person who has benefited from this work is Paul.  When he was 20 years old, he began hearing voices—and soon, he came to believe demons were persecuting him. Eventually, Mainardi’s family took him to the PIH-supported hospital in Lascahobas, Haiti, where he began psychotherapy and received medication for psychosis. He soon realized his  problems were medical—and received the health care that helped him to manage his symptoms and secure a happy, healthy life. 

Paul was so moved by his experience that he wanted to share it with others and prevent the harm that can come from not receiving quality care. So he started a radio station in his home. He transmits messages over the airwaves about mental disorders as a treatable condition, and urges people to seek care from the mental health team at Partners In Health.

“In life, anything is possible,” he begins in one radio spot, in which he describes the range of clinical mental health services available in the community—community health workers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, generalist physicians, and, if needed, a psychiatrist.   

The following article was published by Observer News on March 19, 2014.  In this article, the author discusses the successes observed during his most recent trip to Haiti, including PIH's University Hospital in Mirebalais, made possible with your support to help build back better in Haiti after the earthquake. 

Haiti Revisited, 2014

In nearly 14 years of witnessing the changes in Haiti, this trip was the first time I have seen real change.


Love. Hope. Determination. Pride. Extreme Poverty. Progress. Resilience.

These are but a few of the words that come to mind after my most recent visit to Haiti. I have been witnessing the ups and downs of the people of Haiti since my first visit to the country in April 2000. These people have suffered from corrupt governments and endured some of the most horrific natural disasters ever since they became free from slavery in 1804.

A gentleman in his sixties who moved to Port au Prince from a comfortable lifestyle in Canada told me once that Haiti was a “land of failed good intentions.” He explained that most of the aid going to Haiti was from churches and service organizations from the United States and around the world. People with the most loving and giving hearts bringing clothes, love, food, candy, beads and a labor force to build new churches, church schools and to feed countless starving children and adults.

For many years I was one of those Good Samaritans. And perhaps there is a need to fill a gap, to build hope and to provide food and a sense of belonging to something. Certainly, there was an urgent need to give them a leg up after the recent natural disasters.

But Jack Wall, the Canadian, and his wife, and now his daughter, taught me what Haitians really want. They do not want a handout. They do not want someone else coming to their country to tell them how to live and what to do or what to believe. For, in doing so, we help to create a country of beggars with poor self-esteem and a lack of dignity and self-respect.

The future of Haiti must be rooted in its people’s desire to be responsible, productive, participatory citizens. The rebuilding of their country must be in the hands of the Haitian people. Begin with what they have. Build on what they know. Work with them in their planning for a sustainable future.

 In my nearly 14 years of witnessing the changes in Haiti, this trip was the first time that I have seen real change. I believe President Michel Martelly and his government have truly accomplished more to empower the people and to help Haitians to help themselves than in any other time in the past. New roads, bridges, sanitation, health care, foreign investment, jobs, a safer environment policed by the Haitian police — all are but a few of the advancements I noticed.

There is a rebuilding of the country from the bottom up and from the top down. This was the first time that I entered the country that the smell of burnt charcoal did not permeate the air. Reforestry projects are increasing. Small rural farmers are getting small loans to practice sustainable agriculture. Haitians teaching Haitians and helping one another.

I visited a hospital in the central mountainous village of Mirebalais. The hospital was founded by the renowned Harvard physician Dr. Paul Farmer. Farmer is perhaps the world’s foremost leader and expert on global health care for the poor.

Named Hospital Universitaire, the facility just celebrated its first anniversary. It employs 56 Haitian physicians, more than 100 nurses and approximately 700 other people, more than 99 percent of whom are Haitian. The hospital covers more than 200,000 square feet and is equipped with the very latest technology. It offers nearly all specialty areas, including infectious disease, surgery, obstetrics, ophthalmology, dentistry, cardiology and oncology.

It has more than 300 beds. The entire medical facility, including dorms for doctors and nurses, is 100 percent solar powered. The cost for admission for care is the equivalent of $1.25 per person.

It serves not only a local population of 185,000 but also special-care patients who travel from Port au Prince, a three-hour trip. Yes, to get the project built necessitated support from around the world, but it is a hospital built, staffed and run by Haitians for Haitians.

I also visited an urban gardening project in a very poor part of Port au Prince. There I saw Haitians teaching and helping their neighbors to grow their own food from seed. They use any container available — from the back casing of an old television to an old tire. Within 15 days, they can harvest spinach to feed their families. Any harvest left after filling the needs of their families is given to their neighbors. A sense of community and trust is built.

In this one project, more than 170 people were growing beans, spinach, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes and other food that was totally unfamiliar to me. It is a project developed by Haitians, owned by Haitians and managed by Haitians.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no false illusions about the challenges that this country faces. With the average age of a Haitian being 22, and 200,000 new people coming into the workforce every year, there is no quick-and-easy fix. But foreigners must recognize that the hand-out philosophy of past decades has not worked to rebuild this country.

With perhaps a million people willing and able to work, does it make sense for our high-school-  and college-age students to go to Haiti to lay cement block for them? Will Haitians feel like they own that church or that church school that we foreigners have built for them? Yes, it makes us feel good about ourselves, but this is not a sustainable, participatory way to build a country of responsible Haitians with self-worth and dignity.

The empowerment of women is helping. Ending the myth that this beautiful island is not safe for tourists and foreign investment also will help. Sitting down side-by-side with Haitians who have a plan for a productive, participatory project and sharing with them ideas for them to reach their goals is, in my opinion, the best road to their future.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Partners In Health (PIH)

Location: Boston, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Laura Soucy
Annual Giving Coordinator
Boston, MA United States

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.