Distribution system for aid in Haiti doesn’t exist, says Bill Clinton

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 01 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c583
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Davos

    Despite the massive inflow of aid, large gaps still exist in meeting the vital needs of Haiti’s earthquake victims—with food, shelter, and medical supplies and personnel the most urgent, top United Nations officials told political and business leaders attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    The former US president Bill Clinton told delegates on 28 January, “The distribution system just does not exist.” More distribution centres were urgently needed, along with hundreds of pick-up trucks to circulate supplies, he said.

    Mr Clinton, who is the UN secretary general’s special envoy on Haiti, said he had been “profoundly moved” by the disaster, which had claimed the lives of more than 150 000 people and left thousands of amputees.

    Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Amorim, said that “this is a moment of solidarity” for the world.

    Earlier Ann Veneman, executive director of Unicef, said that the large number of amputees “is a very serious issue” and that many will need second operations. The agency was looking to non-governmental organisations to fund the supply and fitting of prostheses.

    Ms Veneman said that Unicef was starting a vaccination campaign against measles and other diseases. She said that more than a third (38%) of Haiti’s population of 10 million is aged under 14 years and that less than 60% of children are immunised and 25% are malnourished.

    Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme, said that her agency was providing one to two million meals (such as high energy biscuits) daily to Haitians in need and was prioritising distribution to orphanages, hospitals, and schools.

    Catherine Bragg, assistant secretary general at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that the agency had been overwhelmed by the generous response of governments, the private sector, and the general public. Two thirds of the $575m (£356m; €412m) flash appeal for Haiti had already been collected.

    However, she added that the money was “not enough.” She said that the UN was urgently appealing for more tents to shelter the more than one million people left homeless by the earthquake. Of the 200 000 tents requested only about 40 000 had been received.

    Ms Bragg said that although much of the focus so far has been on intensive care, to deal with trauma and injuries, there was an increasing need for postoperative care and basic healthcare services.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c583

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