Partners In Health Haiti Earthquake Recovery

by Partners In Health (PIH)

When the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, Zanmi Lasante was uniquely positioned both to provide emergency care and to help develop and implement plans for long-term reconstruction. ZL provided life-saving care to thousands of injured people, opened clinics to serve more than 100,000 people in four spontaneous settlement camps, and launched a $125-million plan to help rebuild Haiti's public health and health education systems.

By the numbers:

  • 2,961 earthquake victims received emergency care at ZL hospitals during the first month after the earthquake
  • 146,940 patient visits at ZL clinics in four spontaneous settlements
  • 733 volunteers sent to Haiti, including 312 nurses and 239 physicians
  • 1.5 million pounds of supplies moved to Haiti
  • 30,000 children under 5 examined and treated at clinics in settlements
  • 12,000 women seen at sante fanm (women's health) tents in settlement clinics
  • 4,247 psychosocial and mental health services delivered in settlement clinics
  • 500 displaced children enrolled at ZL-supported schools
  • 1,000 vulnerable families trained in innovative farming techniques

Highlights from the response:

Provided emergency care for earthquake victims

In the first hours after the earthquake, Zanmi Lasante took immediate action to provide emergency medical care to earthquake victims both in Port-au-Prince and at our facilities in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite. ZL medical and engineering staff arrived at the badly damaged general hospital in Port-au-Prince just after the quake, where they helped restore electricity, deployed volunteer surgical teams and urgently needed supplies, and worked with partners to get 12 operating rooms up and running around the clock.

As thousands of injured people fled the ruined capital, ZL opened up new emergency wards and brought in volunteer orthopedic teams to help perform emergency surgeries at four of our largest facilities in central Haiti. In the first four weeks after the earthquake, these facilities delivered life-saving medical care to 2,961 patients with earthquake-related injuries.

Provided comprehensive primary care for displaced communities

Just two weeks after the earthquake, ZL set up health clinics to serve over 100,000 displaced people living in four spontaneous settlement camps around Port-au-Prince. ZL's clinics provide comprehensive primary health care and social support services — including maternal and child health, reproductive care, HIV and TB testing, mental health care, and malnutrition treatment — to roughly 10,000 people each week.

Each clinic is staffed by a team of Haitian physicians, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, and lab technicians. ZL also trained and hired local residents to serve as community health workers at each location, improving outreach into the settlements and providing jobs and income.

Strengthened specialized clinical services to meet the needs of earthquake survivors

Many of the more than 300,000 people wounded by the earthquake suffered crush wounds, compound fractures, spinal injuries and other severe injuries that will require ongoing and specialized rehabilitation. Tens of thousands more were scarred emotionally by the loss of family members and friends, homes and livelihoods. To meet their needs, ZL more than doubled the size of our rehabilitative medicine and mental health teams. By the end of June, the physical therapy team had distributed 400 wheelchairs and was providing care to 50 people with amputations. The mental health and psychosocial support team had offered more than 4,200 support services in spontaneous settlements, including psycho-education, counseling, and individual and group therapy.

Broke ground for a new national teaching hospital

In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, PIH/ZL is building a world-class, 320-bed teaching hospital in Mirebalais. The new hospital will train the next generation of Haitian doctors, nurses, and lab technicians, equipping them to take on the challenges of rebuilding and strengthening the Haitian health care system. When its doors open in late 2011, the Mirebalais hospital will be Haiti's largest public hospital outside Port-au-Prince. It will house clinical facilities not currently available in Haiti, including an intensive care unit and six operating rooms, and will contribute to the national goal of decentralizing services, including both clinical care and education for health professionals.


A cholera epidemic has broken out in the Lower Artibonite region of Haiti. As of Friday morning, October 22, more than 2,000 cases and 140 deaths had been reported. PIH has rushed clinical reinforcements and supplies to the region and has mounted a massive community education and mobilization campaign. Community health workers are fanning out throughout the area to distribute oral rehydration salts and soap and to warn people of the need to drink only clean or purified water and wash their hands frequently—the two keys to preventing further spread of the disease.

Starting on Tuesday evening, patients suffering from acute watery diarrhea began arriving at Hôpital Saint Nicolas in St. Marc, which PIH operates in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health. By Thursday evening the hospital in St. Marc was overflowing with over 500 patients, of whom 12 had died. Another 437 patients were taken in between 6:00 Thursday evening and 5:00 Friday morning. Other hospitals in the Lower Artibonite region—including PIH facilities in Petite Riviere and Verettes—also reported large numbers of patients with similar symptoms and high mortality rates.

Although the diagnosis of cholera was not confirmed until Friday morning, PIH, the Ministry of Health, and other partner organizations had already launched urgent treatment and prevention efforts. The most effective treatment for both cholera and other acute diarrheal diseases is oral rehydration; and prevention hinges on providing access to clean water.

Zanmi Lasante dispatched reinforcements for both the clinical and community outreach efforts from our team in Port au Prince and our facilities in the Central Plateau. And several longstanding partner organizations have rallied to support PIH and the Ministry of Health on both fronts. Operation Blessing, which has worked closely with PIH to provide clean water in settlements around Port-au-Prince, rushed to St. Marc to help. Two branches of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-Spain and MSF-Belgium) deployed clinical team reinforcements to St. Marc and Petite Riviere, where they are taking the lead in setting up systems to separate cholera cases from non-cholera cases.

Lack of access to clean water has long been a major threat to public health throughout Haiti. Zanmi Lasante has worked with partner organizations to combat the problem on many fronts:

  • at the household level—by building and supplying filtration systems to households in isolated areas;
  • at the community level—by constructing spring caps and piping water to kiosks for use by local residents; and
  • at the national and international level—by advocating for changes of policy and commitment of resources to make clean water available to all as a fundamental human right. In a study published in 2007, PIH documented the damage to public health caused by a 10-year delay in disbursing loans that had already been approved for construction of water improvement projects in several Haitian communities, including St. Marc. Learn more.

As we work urgently to treat cholera patients and halt the epidemic before it can spread to the crowded settlements around Port au Prince, PIH will continue to emphasize that strengthening public infrastructure, especially the water supply, must be a top priority in post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.



Six months have now passed since a devastating earthquake ripped through Haiti. Every day since January 12, 2010, Partners In Health (PIH) and our sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL) have been working to help Haiti's people build their lives and their country back better.

Although not yet fully funded, the Stand With Haiti Fund we established in March has provided PIH and ZL with the resources and the strategic vision to begin the process of building back better in Haiti through a combination of: strengthened clinical services at our existing health centers and hospitals as well as in new facilities; expanded social and economic support programs for the most vulnerable patients and community members where we work; and investments in long-term, strategic revitalization of the public health and medical education systems.

Over the past 26 weeks, our efforts have saved lives through emergency critical care and surgical services; helped seriously injured patients regain mobility; resettled abandoned and disabled children into a safe group home; comforted communities in need of spiritual and emotional solace; and provided strategic planning assistance to Port-au-Prince's General Hospital (HUEH) as well as the Haitian Ministry of Health (MOH) leadership.

Hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors across the Central Plateau and Artibonite Valley regions as well as in four large settlements of displaced people in Port-au-Prince have benefitted from the generosity of all those who supported and continue to give to PIH's Stand With Haiti Fund. This report summarizes what you have helped make possible since that terrible afternoon in January. For more detailed information and multimedia content, please visit

We have been able to respond to the disaster and embark on the work of building back better thanks to the extraordinary generosity and solidarity of individuals, organizations, and institutions who through June 30 had contributed a total of $85 million, including a substantial sum designated specifically for long-term rebuilding and strengthening Haiti's public health system.

Of that amount, we have expended $26.6 million to date. The table below (see link: PIH Six-Month Report: Overview) presents a summary of how that money has been spent and the graph provides a projection of how we intend to use the remaining $98.4 million of our planned $125 million fund over the next two years. These projections are consistent with the general parameters outlined when the Stand with Haiti Fund was established. They have been and will continue to be refined and adjusted regularly based on our understanding of shifting needs and priorities.

Our work is far from over. The rubble has yet to be fully cleared. More than a million people are still living under tents, tarps, and makeshift shelters in crowded encampments, with limited access to food, water, sanitation, schools, jobs, and social services. Many people are still in pain, hungry, and desperate.

But with over 25 years experience and a local staff of nearly 5,000 people working through an expanding network of public hospitals and health centers, we're committed to continuing to provide quality health care to those who need it most and striving to bring long-term strategic improvements to Haiti's public health and medical education systems. To do this, we will use the same values and approach that have guided our work for many years: solidarity with the Haitian people and the communities in which they live; partnership with the government of Haiti and other institutions and organizations; and a comprehensive vision of what is comprised by health care.



PBS NewsHour recently interviewed Father Eddy Eustache, a priest and psychologist who serves as Director of Mental Health and Psychosocial Services for Zanmi Lasante, PIH's sister organization in Haiti. Below is an excerpt from the interview. Read the full piece at the link below: Q: What are the most common mental health challenges you are seeing in Haiti at this point?

A: Almost four months after the earthquake we are seeing people having various kinds of emotional distress responses. These include difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations, somatic complaints, and significant sadness, worry and anxiety. Some of these can be seen as normal reactions to a highly abnormal situation. However, the level of distress for many is severe. We also see people who have developed psychotic reactions, and other more acute mental health problems, since the earthquake.

One major challenge is a general lack of services in Haiti to address significant mental health problems. Haiti had few mental health professionals, and limited organized mental health services prior to the earthquake. There was not a clear understanding of the prevalence of mental health problems in Haiti prior to the earthquake, but we can expect that the mental health dimensions of the earthquake, overlaid on the pre-existing issue of poverty, will have significant ramifications for mental health. Our hope is to further develop the services needed to assist with such problems, in a culturally appropriate way, for the long-term.

Q: How are mental health workers trying to address the needs?

A: Interventions are needed that respect people's capacity to recover from such an event, that do not pathologize normative responses to such a terrible circumstance, that do not risk harm to individuals, that have some evidence for their efficacy, and that are appropriate to the Haitian context.

At Zanmi Lasante [Partners in Health] we have expanded our team to 17 psychologists from three prior to the earthquake, and to more than 50 staff focused exclusively on mental health and psychosocial services. We have been working ... to provide communal opportunities for mourning, to develop community-based supportive interventions in collaboration with schools and churches, and we have expanded basic clinical services.

This has included training of doctors and nurses in management of acute mental health problems, and planning for expansion of the system of care to include community health workers attuned to mental health, and development of effective referral networks to providers.

Read the full interview at the link below:


In response to the devastation following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12, 2010, Partners In Health (PIH) and its sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), with 4,403 local staff and a large network of public hospitals and health centers, immediately began delivering treatment and care to earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince and across the Central and Artibonite Departments.

The long-term ramifications of this disaster will be significant and far-reaching. To address them, PIH/ZL has taken on relief, recovery, and rebuilding activities in three core areas: clinical services, social and economic support services, and health systems strengthening. This report outlines PIH/ZL’s activities in these program areas from January 12 through April 12, 2010. Highlights include:

• In the first month after the earthquake, PIH/ZL emergency medical efforts treated 4,961 critically injured patients through facility-based interventions, set up, stocked, and staffed 25 operating rooms, identified roughly 1,000 additional patients and referred them to collaborating medical relief organizations, and evacuated 140 patients to the USNS Comfort and hospitals abroad.

• PIH/ZL established clinics in four settlement sites to serve the basic healthcare needs of 88,000 displaced people in Port-au-Prince. Since January 25, these four clinics have treated more than 50,000 patients.

• During the first three months, PIH/ZL hired 358 additional local staff, shipped more than 422 tons of medicines, supplies and equipment, and deployed 516 clinical and technical volunteers.

• PIH/ZL has already supported more than 10,000 people and their families with social or economic support in the form of cash, food, agriculture assistance, educational support, jobs, or other services over the course of the past three months.

• Bolstered capacity at our 12 clinical sites in the Central Plateau and Artibonite to meet the needs of both thousands of injured survivors and tens of thousands of displaced people, who are in need of basic health services.

PIH/ZL approaches “building back better” in Haiti with the same values and principles that have guided our work for many years, namely: partnership with the Government of Haiti to achieve sustainable, long-term improvements to the country’s public health system; pragmatic solidarity with the Haitian people to address their basic needs; and a comprehensive approach to help lift communities out of poverty.

Please open the attached PDF for the full report.


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Organization Information

Partners In Health (PIH)

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

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