Health workforce support needed in Haiti: Alliance Special Advocate Princess Haya oversees Dubai airlift of humanitarian aid

HRH Princess Haya welcomes evacuees on flight back to Amman, Jordan
Credit: Richard Juilliart
HRH Princess Haya welcomes evacuees on flight back to Amman, Jordan

1 February 2010 (*) | Following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti on 12 January, the Global Health Workforce Alliance appealed to all its members and partners to provide urgent support to the country's health workforce, to enable help and aid the population.

"Haiti is one of the 57 countries with crisis-level shortages of health workforce and a weak health system. Due to this terrible disaster, people are in urgent need of help from health care workers to treat their injuries. We hope our partners and members will act to aid Haiti in building and strengthening its health workforce in the coming period," said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Alliance.

A newly appointed Alliance Special Advocate, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, has flown to Port-au-Prince to meet with Haitian and UN officials and raise awareness of the need for international aid. "Dubai may be far away, but we join in reaching out to Haitian families who have lost so much and are struggling now just to survive. The sad truth is that Haiti has long been neglected and this earthquake is a collective wakeup call for the international community. Yes, they need food, medicines, health personnel and water today -- fast,” she remarked. After her mission, HRH Princess Haya has brought back 22 evacuees to Amman, Jordan, essentially bringing them ‘home’ after being stranded following the quake.

Merlin, an international charity for emergency medical help and a member agency of the Alliance is already on the ground in Haiti. "Haiti's health system was in a fragile state before the disaster and Merlin will be working closely with the Ministry of Health to train and retrain local health workers and will look to stay on as long as we are needed," Merlin said on its website.

WHO and other partners are spearheading action to coordinate immediate health response. "At least eight health facilities have been damaged or destroyed. Many people are unaccounted for underneath rubble, a large number of survivors suffer from severe trauma injuries," said WHO.

Countries with chronic shortages of health personnel face devastation of unimaginable proportions when hit by disasters and emergencies. The Alliance and its members and partners are committed to intensifying action to improve health workforce planning and management in countries to enable decent health services for all.

(*) Originally published on 15 January, updated on 1 February.

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