Haiti Moves a Step Closer toward Eradicating Elephantiasis

Boys at the L'Ecole Les Freres Clement elementary school in Jacmel, Haiti, line up to take deworming pills that protect against elephantiasis.

Boys at the L’Ecole Les Freres Clement elementary school in Jacmel, Haiti, line up to take deworming pills that protect against elephantiasis. Source: NPR Global Health

Reposted from NPR Global Health

By Jason Beaubien

Haiti has finally carried out a nationwide campaign to get rid of the parasitic worms that cause elephantiasis.

Haiti has waged other campaigns against the condition, characterized by severe disfiguration of the legs and arms. But until now, it has never managed to adequately reach residents of the chaotic capital Port-au-Prince.

The latest effort by the Haitian Ministry of Health now puts the country on track to wipe out elephantiasis within the next four years, a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Dr. Paul Farmer: Communities Should Lead Problem-Solving in Haiti

Democracy NOW! recently hosted Dr. Paul Farmer to discuss his work in Rwanda, Haiti and his latest book, To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. Farmer decided to compile a collection of commencement addresses he has delivered to graduating college students over the past decade, through which he encourages them to face global challenges with a commitment to social justice and solidarity with the world’s poor.

As Democracy NOW! describes his appearance, Farmer discussed “why he thinks a community-based health approach can help fix the U.S. healthcare system, how Rwanda’s model has drastically improved the lives of its citizens, and how to tackle the massive health problems in post-earthquake Haiti.”

Watch the video here.

UN Anti-Cholera Plan in Haiti ‘Failing’

The epidemic has killed 8,000 people and many thousands have fallen sick

The epidemic has killed 8,000 people and many thousands have fallen sick. Photo: BBCNews

Re-posted from BBC News Latin America and the Caribbean

By Mark Doyle, BBC International Development Correspondent

May 29, 2013

UN efforts to tackle cholera in Haiti are “almost non-existent”, a charity says, as the world body faces court action for inadvertently starting a cholera epidemic in the country.

Late last year, the UN launched a $2.2bn-appeal (£1.5bn) to improve water supplies in Haiti. But Medecins Sans Frontieres says this has had almost no practical effect. The UN is accused of negligently allowing peacekeeping soldiers to pollute Haiti’s water with cholera.

The epidemic, which is spread by infected sewage, has killed more than 8,000 people since late 2010. “There have been grand plans – a 10-year $2.2bn project,” Duncan McClean, a senior manager for MSF, told the BBC. But the UN plan had not been implemented, he added. “I travel regularly to Haiti; the impact on the ground today is almost non-existent.”

The UN plan to improve drinking water and sewage outlets – which MSF says is unfulfilled – was widely seen as the international body’s attempt to deflect calls by the victims of cholera for financial compensation. Responding to the MSF charge, the UN told the BBC that “enormous efforts” had been made to support Haiti’s cholera eradication plans. These efforts had resulted in significantly fewer cases and reduced mortality rates. But the UN also recognised that a shortage of funds meant “resources mobilised to date are clearly insufficient to face a potential peak of cases” in the forthcoming rainy season. It has called for more resources from member states to tackle the cholera epidemic.

The UN says it has legal immunity from the compensation case. Lawyers for the cholera victims say that unless talks on compensation begin in the next few weeks, they will take the UN to court in New York.

MSF said the cholera situation in Haiti was currently “extremely alarming”. The rainy season had begun – causing the usual flooding of infected open sewers – while donor countries had reduced aid commitments.

Travel to Haiti Becoming More Competitive

 JetBlue Airways, the low-cost carrier that has become a major player in the South Florida and Caribbean market, said Thursday it plans to begin offering daily nonstop service to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from New York and Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood.

JetBlue Airways, the low-cost carrier that has become a major player in the South Florida and Caribbean market.

Source: The Miami Herald.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Traveling to Haiti just got a bit more competitive.

JetBlue Airways, the low-cost carrier that has become a major player in the South Florida and Caribbean market, said Thursday it plans to begin offering daily nonstop service to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from New York and Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood as early as December.

The announcement of JetBlue’s continued expansion into the region came as a new Haitian start-up prepared for its Mother’s Day inaugural flight from Nassau, Bahamas to Port-au-Prince. The airline, Kombit, will partner with Fort-Lauderdale-based IBC Travel Inc, which currently offers charter services to the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haïtien from Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

As part of the partnership, IBC will enter into a co-share arrangement for its international fights. It is also providing Kombit with Saab 340 turboprops twin-engine turboprop aircrafts for flights between Port-au-Prince and key Haitian cities.

“They see the opportunities that are right now in Haiti,” Dimitri Fouchard, a Haitian airline veteran who is an investor in Kombit, said about IBC, which is also adding flights from West Palm Beach to Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second-largest city. IBC now offers direct jet service into Cap-Haïtien from Miami and Fort Lauderdale five times per week.

Currently, Insel Air and legacy carriers American and Air France offer service from Miami to Port-au-Prince; Spirit Airlines and American Eagle also offer direct service from Fort Lauderdale. Delta also flies to Port-au-Prince from Atlanta and New York.“This is great news for Haiti, particularly for the tourism sector,” said Haiti’s Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, who met with JetBlue executives in Haiti last month. “I am confident with JetBlue we will be able to plan tourist packages for Haitians living abroad, especially for the youth who want to travel and visit their country of origin.”

The expanded travel choices for Haiti visitors come as the country’s government seeks to boost tourism and attract both foreigners and Haitians as vacationers. Several new hotels have opened in recent months, including U.S. and Spanish brands, and hundreds of additional hotel rooms are under construction. The government also is investing in renovating and expanding airports outside the capital.

In October, the Haitian government unveiled a newly asphalted 7,500-foot runway in Cap-Haïtien, the first step in transforming the regional airport into an international hub. Last month, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced that the airport, which is still being renovated, will be renamed in honor of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said it’s too early to tell whether flights to Cap-Haïtien will be in its future lineup. The airline will begin flying into Haiti’s capital as early as December — just in time for Christmas and pre-carnival celebrations — pending Haitian and U.S. government approval.

“We feel the airport infrastructure can support our operations,’’ she said.

From Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, JetBlue plans to offer one daily nonstop flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and twice daily flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

“With expansion into Port-au-Prince, we plan to meet the demand for quality service to Haiti by offering competitive fares to the large Haitian diaspora in the United States,’’ said Scott Laurence, vice president of network planning for JetBlue Airways. “In turn, we look forward to helping to support the community on the island.”

Haitians have long sought increased competition to their homeland. The high price of airline tickets has long been a sore point with travelers, who note that sometimes it’s cheaper to fly into the neighboring Dominican Republic and drive or ride into Haiti rather than to travel directly.

Fouchard said Haiti’s diaspora offers a huge opportunity, not just for international carriers, but also local ones. The local market, he said, is about 250,00 customers annually. Fouchard said about 140,000 of those previously traveled with Caribintair, which shut down five years ago amid problems with the Haitian government. He was a shareholder in that company.

Hoping to recoup that market, he said, Kombit will offer regular flights within country, as well as between Haiti and the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The Bahamas market, for instance, has gone from four operators to two, which only service Cap-Haïtien, and not Port-au-Prince, Fouchard said. That’s why Kombit, he said, has chosen that market to launch its inaugural flight into Port-au-Prince on Sunday, he said.

Still, Caribbean air travel offers no guarantees. Despite the demand and customer base, air carriers continue to struggle in the region. Last month, for instance, Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines, which began operations in 2007, announced it was cutting back on its flights to Jamaica. The move irked Jamaica, which retained a 16 percent stake in the air carrier after it sold its national airline, Air Jamaica, to Trinidad in 2011. Even regional carrier LIAT, which services the Eastern Caribbean market, continues to report losses despite government subsidies.

Fouchard insists that the Haitian market is different — and wide open.

“We are not going to just go and say this is an airplane and we can have 10 trips a day to a destination,” he said. “We are going to limit the trips from point to point. Basically Kombit is going to find local partners to make it work.”

Caribbean Writers Honor Haitian-American Author Edwige Danticat

Haitian-American author Edwige Danticat has been honored by fellow writers for her book “Create Dangerously” published by Editions Grasset.

The pan-Caribbean awards panel, convened at the third International Congress of Caribbean Writers held in French-speaking Guadeloupe earlier this month, awarded Danticat its literary prize.

The literary luminaries on the panel included Roger Toumson, president of the Association of Caribbean Writers, and Ernest Pépin both of Guadeloupe; Alexandre Alaric of Martinique, Elisabeth Wilson of Jamaica, Chiqui Vicioso of the Dominican Republic, Dominique Battraville of Haiti, and Emilio Jorge Rodriguez of Cuba.

According to Toumson, chair of the panel, “Create Dangerously” is an extraordinary book that confirms the quality of the novelist: “The art of the description, the narrative that she displays in her work provides a sublime report of her journey back to her native land that has suffered from a terrible earthquake, which has marked her deeply.”

She not only expresses her emotions and thoughts that she witnessed, he added, but she also questions her responsibilities as a writer and artist.

“At the same time, she has been able to describe the enigmatic beauty of Haitian paintings, which according to her, contain the secrets of a capacity to rebound in life, to resist misfortunes,” he observed.

Toumson added that Haitian literature makes an important contribution to the wealth of world heritage and provided hope to all people.

Special mentions were also extended to two authors for their work written in English and Spanish respectively: “Light Falling on Bamboo” by Lawrence Scott of Trinidad and Tobago, and “Nécropolis” by Santiago Gamboa of Colombia.

The Regional Council of Guadeloupe expressed gratitude to all participants and supporters of the congress, which has become an important event on the region’s cultural calendar.

To hear Danticat speak about “Create Dangerously,” watch her lecture at Princeton University here.

Read Amy Wilentz’s review of “Create Dangerously” here.

Reposted from Caribbean News Now

CSIS Statesmen’s Forum: His Excellency Prime Minister of Haiti

Since his appointment in May, 2012, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has spearheaded Haiti’s anti-corruption efforts.  The prime minister has also continued focusing on Haiti’s development efforts and channeling foreign investment to create employment opportunities.  At the same time, the Haitian government continues efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and political stability in a challenging environment.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Watch the video here.