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7.30.2010

Barth Green, M.D., Testifies at U.S. House Hearing on Haiti

Testifying before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Barth Green, M.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery, offered his insights on the current health conditions in Haiti, and the vast challenges and opportunities the nation faces as it struggles to recover from January’s catastrophic earthquake.

“In the health sector the situation in Haiti was dire before the earthquake. It is worse today,’’ Dr. Green told members of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere who convened a hearing on Haiti’s recovery in Washington, D.C., Thursday. “Because the earthquake devastated existing program capacity across Haiti, there exists a new, unprecedented need encompassing all health care programs and services, ranging from critical care, trauma, and rehabilitation to community health.’’

Dr. Green, co-founder of Project Medishare and the UM Global Institute for Community Health and Development, led the first team of outside doctors to the ravished capital of Port-au-Prince and spearheaded the University’s construction of Haiti’s best organized, staffed and managed post-quake hospital. He offered a succinct answer to the question posed by the hearing title, “The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?”

“No,’’ he said, “we are not moving fast enough to help Haiti. Six months after the quake millions of Haitians are still living in what we in the U.S. would consider as inhumane conditions, with few if any services available and virtually no prospect of employment. We must change the way we do business in Haiti. Following traditional paths of assistance will only lead to more of the same.’’

The subcommittee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel of New York. Joining Green on a panel of speakers were Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction; Jimmy Jean-Louis, actor and goodwill ambassador for the Pan American Development Foundation; Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International; Joia Jefferson Nuri, chief of staff, TransAfrica Forum; Michael Fairbanks, author and founder and director of the SEVEN Fund; and Nicole S. Balliette, deputy director for Haiti Emergency Earthquake Response, Catholic Relief Services.

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