Fourth Annual Global Health Lecture on Haiti Engages Students, Faculty, and Staff

On February 3, 2011, Russell Porter, the Coordinator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Haiti Task Team captivated and engaged the attendees of the Duke University School of Nursing’s Fourth Annual Global Health Lecture, sponsored by the Duke University School of Nursing Office of Global and Community Health Initiatives, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University Office of the Provost, and Duke University Health System Clinical Education and Professional Development. Addressing a multi-disciplinary audience of approximately one hundred Duke faculty and staff, as well as nursing, graduate, and undergraduate students, Mr. Porter delivered an informative and poignant lecture on “USAID in Haiti: One Year After the Earthquake…A Vision for the Future”.

Before the January 12, 2010 earthquake, USAID was involved in Haiti in a number of roles, such as managing Haiti’s water supply, developing its agriculture centers, supporting and reforming education, developing the country’s financial services sector, and promoting health through health care. When the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the nation, USAID provided immediate relief in the form of emergency food, water and shelter for the millions who were affected by the disaster.  The swift, coordinated response from the U.S. Government saved lives.

Now, a year after the earthquake, USAID has been actively involved in the rebuilding process. Porter explained how the earthquake generated approximately 10 million cubic meters of rubble that must be removed before new construction can take place. As a result, rubble removal is a top priority of USAID as well as building assessment and repair to ensure safe, sturdy shelters for the people of Haiti.  In addition to providing assistance in the evaluation and reconstruction of buildings, USAID has provided displaced persons with transitional shelters that can last up to three years.  However, USAID’s aid is not limited to immediate relief and reconstruction. The agency is providing on the job training in areas such as construction in order to provide the Haitians with skills they can employ well after the rebuilding effort.

USAID is helping Haiti lay the groundwork for over all improvements in infrastructure, healthcare, governance, and economic development. Porter further demonstrated USAID’s commitment to Haiti by discussing the extent to which the U.S. Government is responding to the country’s long term needs through the provision of basic health care services, immunizations, the instillation of sanitation systems, and agricultural programs, while also addressing short term needs, such as the cholera outbreak. In his lecture, Mr. Porter painted a vivid and captivating image of the ways in which USAID is working with the Government of Haiti and the Haitian people to not only rebuild the nation in the wake of the earthquake, but to strengthen the nation so that it will be built back better than before.

Mr. Porter’s lecture generated questions and stimulated dialogue among all students, faculty and staff in attendance. From the lecture attendees quickly jotting notes throughout his speech, to the rapt attention expressed on student’s faces, and finally, to the number of individuals who spoke with Mr. Porter at the lecture’s conclusion, it was clear that the Fourth Annual Global Health Lecture resonated with a number of participants from a variety of academic backgrounds. The passionate engagement with Mr. Porter’s lecture demonstrated Duke University’s commitment not only to the recovery of the Haitian nation, but to the importance of global health and addressing health disparities locally and abroad through academic, research, and service initiatives.

Watch the 4th Annual Global Health Lecture: Haiti Engages Students, Faculty, and Staff.  You may also view or print the presentation.

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