Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sean Penn in Haiti: NGOs Not Spending Money to Head Off Diphtheria Epidemic


Video courtesy of AC360 | CNN

Sean Penn is angry. He says he has held his tongue and did not want to get into finger pointing about the performance of some NGOs in Haiti until now, but is compelled to speak up because he watched a 15 year old (who is the first confirmed victim of diphtheria) die as Penn tried all day to get him the medicine needed to stop this preventable disease from taking the youngster's life. The boy was shuttled by Penn to different aid agencies seeking the medicine that would have prevented his death, but he received the right treatment too late.

He hunted every corner of Port-au-Prince for an antitoxin for Oriel, a 15-year-old boy who contracted diphtheria, an acutely infectious disease spread through respiratory droplets.

The American Red Cross didn't have it. Nor did any of the major hospitals. Penn even had the U.S. military on the search.

The United States stockpiles the vaccine and antitoxin. But in Haiti, it took Penn -- even with his star power -- 11 hours to get his hands on one dose.

It was at a medical warehouse and Penn wrested the head of the World Health Organization from bed to unlock the door at a late hour.

"This country is not ready for an emergency," he says.

[...]

Penn cannot comprehend why, with an abundance of aid agencies working in Haiti, prevention like this has to be so difficult. He is not one to shield his anger, or mince words. "If the boy were to die," he says, "this would be murder."

A diphtheria epidemic is something that aid agencies like the American Red Cross should have been prepared for, says Penn. Aid organizations are "dominated by an inertia that killed a fifteen year old," he concluded, and they should "get off their butts, or people are gonna die en mass."

"The disaster is still on," as NGOs aren't spending the money on the people and not addressing the medical crises that may kill more people then the earthquake itself did. He says that aid groups have not been helpful and "were not prepared" to deal with preventable medical diseases. Sean says he hears a lot of criticism from NGOs of the Haitian government, but "Right now, if I were putting my money on an agency that is actually ready to act, it would be the government of Haiti."

Sean Penn says he has held his tongue and did not want to get into finger pointing about the performance of some NGOs in Haiti until now, but is compelled to speak up because he watched a 15 year old (who is evidently the first known victim of diphtheria in Haiti since the earthquake) die as Penn tried for hours to get him the medicine needed to stop this preventable disease from taking the youngster's life.

The boy was shuttled to different agencies as Penn sought the medicine that would have prevented his death. A diphtheria epidemic is something that aid agencies like the American Red Cross should have been prepared for, says Penn, but organizations are "dominated by an inertia that killed a fifteen year old" and they should "get off their butts, or people are gonna die en mass." Penn insists that the designated disaster funds should be made available now, to fight the coming devastation if the medical needs of the people are not addressed.

RIP Oriel Lynn Peter.

HatTip to Defend Haiti on Facebook




2 comments:

thezenhaitian said...

“True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense” – Emanuel Swedenborg

Anonymous said...

Thanks JP

They do not give a f*ck!

Their priorities are to build prisons to house the restless, sick, homeless and hungry Haitians "Canada has contributed $4.4 million to the International Organization for Migration for the construction of the Croix-des-Bouquets prison... Minister Cannon visited Jacmel and Léogâne, as well as Croix-des-Bouquets, where the prison is nearing completion."

http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2010/155.aspx?lang=eng

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