Dr. Ralph R. Frerichs gets it right in his op-ed “What the UN must do in Haiti” (Aug. 23). Cholera prevention in Haiti requires a long-term plan to guarantee access to clean water and sanitation, but more is needed to improve the health of Haitian people. As a native of Haiti who has run health projects there with funding from the US Agency for International Development, I have been outraged to watch the cholera outbreak overtake the country even as it has worked to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake. Who could have imagined that a strain of cholera would travel from Nepal to Haiti and kill so many people?
The crisis demonstrates that in an interconnected world, diseases anywhere are a threat everywhere. The challenges facing Haiti’s health system are many: limited access to primary care health services, limited availability of essential medicines and supplies in health centers, high cost for services, and lack of trained health professionals.
If we truly want to stop the transmission of deadly disease, investing in sustainable health systems that respond to outbreaks while continuing to provide basic health care is an essential part of the prescription for Haiti.