The Right to Health in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Promotion of health for all is critical to fulfilling the commitment to the right to health. Haiti recognized the need to reform its health sector as one means of promoting a more equitable society that provides basic human rights for its citizens, and set about to reform its health system to better address essential health needs nearly a decade ago. The country has made great strides in improving its health system to meet the basic needs of all Haitians.

This paper, "The Right to Health in Post-Earthquake Haiti: A health system in flux confronts a cholera outbreak," studies Haiti's health system's response to the cholera outbreak.  

In light of the devastating earthquake in January 2010 and the cholera epidemic that followed in October 2010, this paper asks how disasters affect long-term efforts to reform the health system so that it is more equitable.

The authors review the progress that Haiti was making before the earthquake in rebuilding its health system and assess the impact of the earthquake on those efforts. The authors discuss how the situation has been complicated by the cholera outbreak and the social disruption that resulted, and analyze the impact on human rights. The paper concludes with strategy recommendations for Haiti to recover and continue to build a health system that promotes the right to health, including equitable access to health services.

The authors conclude that a phased approach to medium- and long-term health systems development is needed, with the full involvement of the Haitian government, civil society, service providers, and communities as well as donors. The authors propose a series of critical actions at the central, departmental, and local levels that have proven effective in other fragile states, in the context of Haiti's Interim Haiti Recovery Commission plan and the cholera strategy developed by the Ministry of Public Health and Population with the Pan American Health Organization.

John Pollock, MALD,  Senior Fellow in the Center for Health Services at Management Sciences for Health, Gabriel Thimothé, MD, MPH, Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and Population of the Government of Haiti, and William Newbrander, PhD, Principal Technical Advisor in the Center for Health Services at Management Sciences for Health wrote this paper.

Read the full paper. [PDF 150KB]