Haiti efforts revamp following outbreak

by Amelia Acosta | 11/9/10 11:00pm

Correction Appended

Expanding upon a campus-wide response to the January earthquake in Haiti, Dartmouth students, faculty and administration have revamped relief efforts to address the recent outbreak of cholera in Port-Au-Prince and surrounding towns, according to Presidential Fellow Molly Bode '09, who serves as the Dartmouth Haiti Response Coordinator.

"We sent medical supplies such as antibiotics, as well as sanitary supplies like Clorox, mops, buckets and diapers," Bode said. "This past week, we shipped out a number of dialysis supplies to help with cases of renal failure that have occurred."

Cholera first broke out north of Port-Au-Prince near the end of October, mainly in Haiti's Central Plateau region. The disease is characterized by severe dehydration, fever, diarrhea and vomiting.

The death toll from the outbreak in Haiti is currently estimated at 544, according to BBC News. This number is expected to rise in the wake of Hurricane Tomas, which hit Haiti on Friday. The flooding will both increase the prevalence of contaminated water which is the source of the outbreak and hinder relief efforts by damaging Haiti's already fragile infrastructure.

Prior to the hurricane, transportation of supplies already posed a major obstacle to relief efforts, according to Bode.

Supplies go by plane to Miama then Port-Au-Prince, and from there are sent by truck into the Central Plateau region, according to Bode.

"Unfortunately, that's already a long process. Just getting to the Central Plateau region from the capital is likely to take over three hours with the poor quality of the roads," Bode said.

When students learned of the outbreak, they responded quickly to the needs of affected Haitians, Bode said.

"I work directly with students to see who is interested in getting involved, and in this case students were very eager," she said. "It was amazing to see that they were able to pull together so quickly."

A number of other organizations on campus participated in relief efforts, including Alpha Xi Delta sorority, according to Rachel Sarnoff '12, who helped in AZD's efforts.

"Two weeks ago, when the outbreak first hit, we had a bake sale for Haiti that raised almost $200 for relief response efforts," Sarnoff said. "This week we're sending the check to Dartmouth's Haiti Response."

Overall, students have sent more than 6,000 pounds of supplies to Haiti since Oct. 26.

"We worked with Dartmouth Medical School, Student Assembly, the Tucker Foundation and the Dartmouth Coalition for Global Health, among others," Bode said. "Students donated non-medical supplies and over $1,000 to purchase more. We received medical supplies from 10 regional hospitals."

The Tucker Foundation set up a form that allows students to make donations via DA$H online, according to Bode. Tucker also designated locations including Leverone Field House before the Ke$ha concert for students to donate non-medical items. Student Assembly helped advertise these locations.

"It was the easiest donation I've ever made," Gina Greenwalt '14 said. "A lot of times when a big disaster happens, people pay attention for a while and then slowly forget about it, or assume the problems just go away. But I think the cholera outbreak is a prime example that these problems don't just go away, and that the people of Haiti still need our help."

Dartmouth's response to the cholera outbreak is part of an ongoing relief effort by the College that has involved the provision of supplies, monetary aid and medical professionals to Haiti since January. The College has dispatched over 50 medical professionals including 39 from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to the country.

"Overall the monetary gifts and in-kind donations generated by the College in response to the earthquake were over $1.5 million," Bode said. "Many of our supplies went directly to Partners In Health, which already has established infrastructure in Haiti. We're in the process of determining our long term plans for aid in Haiti as we move forward."

Partners In Health was co-founded by College President Jim Yong Kim.

**The original version of this article referred to Bode as a leader of "Dartmouth Students for Haiti Relief" when in fact she is the Dartmouth Haiti Response Coordinator. Additionally, the original version of this article stated that the Student Assembly had set up the form and locations for donations when in fact, it was the Tucker Foundation who did this.*