This story was authored by Vikas Vij and first published to Justmeans on 3/22/2017.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – When a natural disaster strikes a developing country like Haiti, first responders address the population’s immediate needs for potable water, food, medical supplies and temporary shelter. However, the long-term challenge is to rebuild homes and basic infrastructure, such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Build Health International (BHI), a Massachusetts-based nonprofit has taken up the challenge to make more of Haiti’s healthcare facilities affordable, sustainable and resilient to natural catastrophes. BHI has been focusing on this mission since 2010, when the public health system was destroyed in a major earthquake in Haiti.
According to Jim Ansara, BHI founder and CEO, the healthcare conditions worsened after Hurricane Matthew last year. Haiti now faces additional issues of malnutrition and increased cholera cases – everything that comes with poor, displaced people who were already vulnerable.
BHI partnered with the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation to repair and expand St. Boniface Hospital – the only general surgery program in the southern peninsula of Haiti – to build an infectious disease ward, a new surgical center and a re-commissioned community-water project. The goal of BHI is to create structures that will resist earthquakes and hurricanes.
In the area where St. Boniface hospital is located, electricity from a power grid is not an option. The hospital uses diesel generators for air conditioning and occupancy sensors with LED lighting to minimize energy. The next step is to install a massive solar system that is expected to supply 85 percent of the hospital’s energy.
However, attracting the interest of U.S. foundations and donors to invest in large scale solar projects in Haiti has been challenging for organizations such as BHI. Furthermore, lack of funding has led to a severe shortage of public health workers. Project HOPE is one of many organizations helping support Haiti’s health system since the hurricane.
Earlier this year, Haiti received $89 million in an emergency flash appeal after the hurricane, according to a funding overview by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Out of this fund, $3.5 million has gone directly to improving the country’s health.
Haiti has received $139 million overall since the hurricane from the UN, international nonprofits and other donors.