When a humanitarian crisis or a disaster like the Haiti earthquake strike, Mass General relies on expert doctors and nurses, as well as gifts to the MGH Fund, to provide emergency response.
Responding to Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti
Responding to Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti

When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Mass General immediately deployed doctors, nurses and volunteers to the country to aid in emergency efforts. The hospital also established a relief fund, using gifts from the MGH Fund, which are meant to be used in the case of a humanitarian crisis.

“Infectious diseases thrive on poor sanitation, limited resources and a lack of education,” says Larry Ronan, MD. “Our team is working to address these issues.”

The MGH Center for Global Health coordinated the initiative and ensured that Mass General specialists remained in Haiti for months after the earthquake to deal with the resulting humanitarian crisis.

As the country began to slowly rebuild, disaster struck again. Following the earthquake, cholera seeped into the country’s water supply and spread rapidly. By October 2010, more than 300 Haitians died from the disease, and it was clear that an epidemic was overtaking the country. Additional clinicians and researchers from Mass General were deployed to help address the growing crisis. Over the next few months, researchers identified the strain, allowing doctors and nurses to appropriately treat thousands of Haitians. By early 2011, cholera cases were on the decline.

Ongoing Support for Haiti

When Haiti’s rainy season arrived in June 2011, flooding resulted in a resurgence of cholera. Mass General, in conjunction with Project HOPE, a global humanitarian and health aid organization, quickly deployed a clinical team to the country. In the midst of the humanitarian crisis, they were tasked with treating infected patients, training frontline health workers and educating at-risk populations.

Mass General specialists remained in Haiti for months after the earthquake to deal with the resulting humanitarian crisis.

“The situation in Haiti is still quite dire,” says Larry Ronan, MD, an MGH physician and director of the Durant Fellowship in Refugee Medicine. “Infectious diseases like cholera thrive on poor sanitation, limited resources and a lack of training and education. To combat this recent resurgence, our team is working to address each of these issues.”

The team has already experienced notable success, seeing a decrease from the 200 cases of cholera treated per day when they arrived. While the work to be done in Haiti is far from over, Mass General remains committed to finding solutions to the country’s health crisis.