Haiti One Year Later

More than one year has elapsed since the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010
Haiti. The world – along with many O&P providers
– turned its focus on the ailing nation.

More than 30 organizations have been lending their help to rebuild the
nation and aid in the health care of its citizens, according to a report from
USAID. Their report reflects the delivery of hundreds of upper and lower
prosthetic and orthotic devices.

  Al Ingersoll
  Al Ingersoll

O&P Business News spoke with Al Ingersoll, BA, CP, of
Healing Hands for Haiti International Foundation – the
only full-time provider on site prior to the earthquake – to get an update
on where things stand one year later.

According to Ingersoll, the actual number of people still in need of
orthotic and prosthetic service is hard to determine.

“We can only use WHO estimates for developing countries,”
Ingersoll told O&P Business News. “The estimated number of
Haitians with limb loss is between 8,000-10,000 total [including pre-quake
amputees] depending on many factors.”

For those who have received care, Ingersoll explained that physical
rehabilitation care is moving along well considering some of the obstacles.

“Access to public transportation is still a big problem for anyone
with a mobility limitation … People with transfemoral amputations are
particularly challenged by the physical topography hurdles – Haiti has
more mountains than Switzerland – along with funding limitations for knee
joints and socket materials.

We constantly hear that lack of jobs, access to good nutrition and
medical services and cultural stigmas are also limiting,” he said.
“The disabled community in Haiti is still shunned, does not have access to
most jobs, struggles to provide for family and … [has] little access to
transportation. Communication of available services/resources continues to be a
challenge and participation by Government of Haiti and Ministry of Health
continues to be sporadic.”

The unexpected October 2010 cholera outbreak has also had a significant
impact on the quality of health care in the region. According to Ingersoll, a
large shift in personnel and funding has taken place to react to this latest
problem – and rightfully so, he said. The CDC reports that cholera had not
been documented in Haiti for decades and therefore the likelihood of a new
outbreak was considered unlikely following the earthquake.

“[Cholera] has definitely affected all aspects of care, shelter
development, education and the political situation; along with the recent
election results unrest,” he said.

Education will be so important moving forward, but according to
Ingersoll, it not developing as quickly as necessary.

“The Haiti prosthetics and orthotics education program using El
Salvador’s University of Don Bosco curriculum is slow to develop with all
the above reasons adding to the delays; along with making sure funding sources
are secured,” he said. “Alternative options are being explored. The
Dominican Republic UDB program just started and we hope to gain knowledge from
their experience.”

Ingersoll said that continued financial and in-kind support for involved
organizations, support and mentoring of schools and long-term ISPO Cat I &
II assistance will develop Haiti (and Dominican Republic) prosthetics and
orthotics. — by Jennifer Hoydicz

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