Massive humanitarian health needs exist in Haiti following the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and clear WHO guidelines are in place for the donations of medicines and other medical supplies to support the relief effort. WHO recommends that potential donors follow these guidelines to ensure appropriate supplies are being provided to match needs on the ground.
On 27 January, WHO in Haiti also identified the types of medicines and supplies needed at that present time. These needs are identified in the following attachment.
WHO wants to avoid the supply of inappropriate medicines and equipment to Haiti and, instead, ensure essential medical supplies are identified and provided so to best support the health relief efforts underway in the country.
Medicines and medical equipment are an essential element in alleviating suffering, and international humanitarian relief efforts can greatly benefit from donations of appropriate medical supplies.
Unfortunately, disasters do not always lead to an objective assessment of emergency medical needs based on epidemiological data and past experience. Very often an emotional appeal for massive medical assistance is issued without guidance on what are the priority needs. The result is that many donations may cause problems instead of being helpful.
To address those issues, WHO has published guidelines for drug donations and guidelines for health care equipment donations.