Video: CDC Responds to Earthquake in Haiti
CDC Health Scientist Dr. W. Roodly Archer, born in Haiti, is one of the more than 300 CDC employees who has helped Haiti recover after the 2010 earthquake. Hear her story about making a difference in Haiti.
On January 31st when I first arrived in Haiti, there was a mix of emotion. Obviously it's my home country, so there was a lot of sadness, and I didn't know what to expect. At the same time, as a health scientist, I was ready to go and help the Ministry of Health and their different partners to set up and strengthen the surveillance system on the ground. The thing that had touched me the most was the resilience of the Haitian population. After the earthquake, it was a massive destruction, and I think everyone has seen the pictures on television. However, regardless in which condition the Haitian had to live, either in a tent or in a broken home, life continued, and they would show up to work when work was still functioning and do their job as they're supposed to be doing, and, to me, that was impressive. CDC was there to and is still working with the Ministry to help strengthen their health system. Part of it is to continue maintaining those two surveillance systems. We are also doing a project on malaria. The Ministry of Health with CDC were able to identify the use of rapid diagnostic tests to be used in camps so you could confirm very quickly a possible case of malaria. We are also helping with reproductive health. We are helping with dengue prevention and tuberculosis. Another part is also to train epidemiologists that will be able to do public health and reinforce what the Ministry already have in place. So then they won't be as dependent on foreign help to do public health in the country. What makes us proud is the fact that every day we can see little improvement. The Ministry had a surveillance system set two weeks after the earthquake. Of course, like any other surveillance system, you cannot have a perfect one from the get-go. So every week and every month you see improvement. You see also strengthening in the capacity of the National Lab in doing testing. You also see improvement in some conditions in the camp. Of course, everything is not done. We still have a lot to do. However, every day you get a little bit of improvement, and that's a victory. When you hope, you always hope big, and you have big dreams, so I would wish that Haiti, my country, would be able to rebuild its health system and to have a functioning system where every Haitian could get good quality care at the lowest cost.