The Epidemic and the Response: Caribbean Response to HIV Amidst Natural Disasters by Dr. Jean William Pape at 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference

The organizers of the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference have been uploading videos of the sessions on their Youtube page and I’ll be sharing a few more videos. In this one, Dr. Jean William Pape, Founder and Director of GHESKIO in Haiti discusses the organization’s response to the recent earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. Although he does not mention explicitly the role of crisis communication within disaster response, you can clearly see the importance of having a strategic crisis communication plan. By about the 7:00 minute mark, he talks about GHESKIO’s response and outlines how they went about communicating with their patients, including setting up 24-hour phone lines and delivering calling cards, having a ‘correspondent’ serve as a link between the organization and patients, and through radio messages.

Haiti two years after earthquake; 15 months after Cholera outreak

Today marks the second anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake, one of the most devastating disasters in the region. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the spread of cholera was one of the many challenges faced across the nation. Since the outbreak in October 2010, more than one million cases have been reported; with about 7000 deaths. More than a year after the first reported cases, about 200 people each day are being diagnosed with cholera.

This week, the Pan American Health Organization, along with officials in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the United States met to discuss ways to not only control the disease but to completely eliminate it on the twin-nation island. Much will need to be done in rebuilding Haiti structurally in order to stem this outbreak. In particular, the country needs to find ways to build an effective sewer system and to get clean water to its citizens. On the other hand, behavioral changes made through understanding and awareness of the steps that each individual can take to protect themselves–hand washing, boiling water and proper latrine use–are still needed.

I remember attending a TedX event a few months ago where a USAID official spoke about  using text messaging and radio programming for education purposes. Because of low-literacy rates, communication experts have to be careful what format they choose to use when reaching out to that community. As such, using text messaging and radio are just is two ways for people to get the message. Thinking on this also leads me to the many studies from the Positive Deviance Initiative and their approach to behavior change. Are there people in Haitian communities that are doing things right to stave off Cholera, despite all the challenges? What are they doing right? What steps are they taking? And, how can someone else in that same community with the same (limited) resources replicate those steps?  If anyone knows of how this is being manifested in Haiti, I’m interested in hearing about it.


Earlier this month, Global Health Magazine announced the winner of it’s Women and Girls in Changing World photography contest. The winner took this beatuful photo of a young girl performing a dance about standing up to violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The girl has been living in a displacement camp since last year’s earthquake.

More photos as well as a short interview with the photographer Chessa Latifi
is available at

Mr. Sheen Goes to Haiti

After much talk in the past week about Charlie Sheen’s ranting, the focus has now turned to his plans to join fellow actor Sean Penn in Haiti.

According to the article, “Sean Penn, who has tirelessly worked to bring attention and relief to the earthquake-stricken and impoverished country, invited old friend Charlie Sheen down to the island nation on Friday to lend a hand in the relief efforts.”

“In a statement, Penn said: “I think his energies, intelligence and passion could be both of service and servicing to him, as it is to all who are touched by the struggle of the Haitian people.””

The full article is available at

UNICEF – Photo of the Week – Haitian mother and child


From UNICEF’s Photo of the Week: Haiti, 2011: Miscillite holds her malnourished daughter, Jeanne-Baptiste, outside their makeshift shelter in Port-au-Prince. They live in a camp for people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. Miscillite, who has four children and is pregnant, struggles to feed her family. Jeanne-Baptiste receives therapeutic food at a nearby UNICEF-supported community clinic.

UNICEF – UNICEF Photography – Photo of the Week.