UNMC doc urges help for Haiti
January 12th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – Itâ€™s been a year since a catastrophic earthquake struckÂ Haiti. It left more than 100,000 people dead, many more injured and homeless. Mike Tobias talked about the current situation with a University of Nebraska Medical Center administrator who has seen the devastation of his homeland first-hand.
Dr. Rubens Pamies has made three trips toÂ HaitiÂ since the earthquake, leading teams of UNMC and other health care professionals. The most recent trip was last August. A doctor and vice chancellor at UNMC, Pamies said the Haitian recovery has been slow.
â€œBy and large, there hasnâ€™t been any major movement in terms of providing more permanent shelters for any of the folks who live there,â€ he said.
â€œNo sort of economic revival, thereâ€™s no major medical sort of coordinated effort going on. Thereâ€™s just basically a lot of organizations, sort of taking care of sections.â€
Billions of dollars were donated or pledged for earthquake relief, but recent reports have shown that much of this money has not made it toÂ Haiti. Thatâ€™s frustrating for Pamies, who has seen the half million people still living in crowded tent cities, people who, since the earthquake, have dealt with a cholera outbreak and other health issues that came with living in conditions Pamies called deplorable.
â€œThe conditions that these individuals are living in are just so perfect for outbreaks of all kinds of things, including, quite frankly, violence.â€
Pamies is eager to take another team of Nebraska health professionals back toÂ HaitiÂ in the near future. In the meantime, heâ€™s put together a book that shares personal accounts and photos from past relief workers. Itâ€™s called â€œHelp and Hope forÂ Haiti.â€ Pamies said it includes heart-wrenching stories of the tragedy, but also optimism that the country can rebuild. He hopes the book helps people remember what happened just a year ago.
â€œWe shouldnâ€™t forget about this,â€ he said. â€œThis is an ongoing issue and it shouldnâ€™t be just on the anniversary, but it should be something that we need to continue to do.â€
All proceeds from sales of â€œHelp and Hope forÂ Haitiâ€ go to the UNMC Haitian Relief and Outreach Fund.
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