I'm glad my wife, Therese Sprunger, is home from Haiti. The stories she relates give me nightmares; that is why I am up writing this at 4 a.m. We've spent a few years in Haiti, and return frequently for medical work. She has made two post-earthquake visits in the past few months, taking medical supplies and encouragement for friends.
I expect another serious period of crisis in Haiti over the next 2 months, with the unsettled presidential election, the cholera epidemic, the reappearance of Baby Doc Duvalier, and the already slowed clean-up from the quake. More than 90 percent of the rubble is still in place, same as the day after the quake.
Hundreds of thousand of people in Port-au-Prince are living under inhumane conditions. The clean-up phase is a “hard-but-doable” project, and there is “money in the bank” to help, just not released by other governments, especially the United States.
U.S. government officials advocate one policy to resolve the Haitian presidential election, leading to release of funds for reconstruction; but the private USA Center for Economic Policy and Research is at odds with that. It’s time to coordinate the USA policy with more involvement of Haitian officials. In this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, Scott Dowell, director of Global Infectious Disease Detection at CDC, has an article telling about the public health situation in Haiti, “the hemisphere’s weakest public health system before the earthquake. There are glimmers of hope, but one has to look hard.”