Is Haiti’s health system any better? A report calling for a more coordinated, collaborative approach to disaster response.
Merlin calls on the international community to stop ‘take-over’ tendency and modernise our approach to disaster relief. One year ago, Haiti’s earthquake prompted one of the biggest relief efforts ever. Merlin’s report ‘Is Haiti’s health system any better?’ brings to light the unintended consequences of this international good will.
When aid agencies flocked to help, few made use of local doctors and nurses and the extensive health facilities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. All too often, incoming international medical teams worked independently of the Haitian health system. Having been at the forefront of saving lives in the initial aftermath, local health workers found themselves sidelined and undermined in the chaos.Not only were their skills not effectively used, national health workers also missed out on potential learning opportunities from the many international clinicians. The sheer volume of aid agencies has inadvertently led to an in-country brain drain. Countless health workers have left their jobs for better paid positions with international NGOs, exacerbating the country’s chronic shortage of health workers. The already fragile health system has been left struggling to cope.