Haiti Q&A with Margaret Aguirre
February 25, 2010
Margaret Aguirre, Director of Global Communications, who was on the ground with our first team 22 hours after the earthquake in Haiti, answers some of the questions you've submitted over the past week.
1. How did you manage to help those victims who were in hard to reach areas? And also how did you manage to get blood products for all those who had hemorrhage?
Answer: Within a week of the emergency we began operating mobile medical units that travel to hard-to-reach areas in order to bring health care to those who have no other way to access it. We now have 15 mobile units throughout the earthquake-affected areas, places like Gressier, Carrefour, Petit Goave and Jacmel. We received a lot of assistance from the Swiss, Norwegian and Canadian Red Cross in getting blood supplies.
2. When do you think that the local medical personnel will be enough to handle those victims?
Answer: Local medical personnel currently need significant assistance in addressing the needs of the hundreds of thousands whose health is at risk. We will continue to train local health care workers, and stay in Haiti as long as we can to help the local population recover and rebuild their health infrastructure.
3. After such a horrific tragedy, how are the psychological needs of both the people of Haiti and the first responders being addressed? Will teams of psychiatrists and psychologists be sent to work with people?
Answer: International Medical Corps is one of the few NGOs that implements clinical mental health programs during an emergency. We have a team of psychiatrists already on the ground in Haiti treating patients and training local mental health professionals – as well as primary care workers – on how to identify and address mental health needs.
4. Will International Medical Corps be able to help Haitian people for at least one year?
Answer: We intend to stay in Haiti for at least a year.
5. What long-term solutions are you looking to build in Haiti?
Answer: We have learned throughout our 25-year history of emergency relief and development that our mission of training local health care workers is the best way to ensure long-term recovery. During the emergency phase we are already focusing on training so that skills and knowledge are passed along to the local community, improving their chances of once again becoming self-reliant.
For the long-term in Haiti we will remain focused on people’s nutritional needs, as well as ensuring they have clean water and sanitation – both critical to long-term health.
6. Does there exists some overarching, strategic vision/plan for Haiti’s recovery that coordinates or informs the somewhat disparate activities performed by a variety of different humanitarian assistance organizations in an effort to ensure that both the short and long term recovery objectives are satisfied in a relatively effective and timely manner. If there is such a plan, could you describe its basic elements and who or what organization(s) is responsible for its overall execution?
Answer: All of our activities are conducted in close coordination with the other NGOs on the ground and with the UN agencies, including UNICEF, WHO, etc. This is to ensure that we work together, avoid redundancies, and reduce gap areas or populations whose needs are not being met.