On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake shook Haiti to its core, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless. Three IMA staff, including new President Rick Santos, were trapped under a collapsed building for more than two days before being rescued, and two colleagues with them perished from their injuries.
IMA joined the world in mourning the devastating loss of life, infrastructure and progress in Haiti. After what our team had experienced, we knew that both IMA and Haiti would be forever changed. We also knew that our best response would be to take quick action to support the Haitian people in the process of healing and rebuilding. The earthquake should not be seen as an end or an insurmountable obstacle, but as a tragic disruption in the forward progress of development.
Prior to the earthquake, the Haiti Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program (HNTDP)—in which IMA played a key role—had covered more than half of Haiti’s 140 communes with mass drug administration (MDA) to control and eliminate the common NTDs lymphatic filariasis (LF) and soil transmitted helminths. The program had come too far to allow the earthquake to undo its hard work, so within weeks, IMA and the HNTDP worked quickly to regroup and resume MDA in order to maintain progress toward ridding Haiti of these diseases.
Today, five years after the earthquake, full national coverage has been maintained three years running and progress remains on track, thanks to the leadership of the Haiti Ministry of Health, funding from USAID through RTI/ENVISION, implementation from IMA, support from the CDC and University of Notre Dame. For the HNTDCP, the goal of eliminating LF by 2020 is within reach despite the odds.
Though much work remains across all of Haiti’s sectors, IMA is proud to have walked alongside the people of Haiti for the past five years to achieve meaningful long-term progress. On this five year anniversary, IMA is focused on looking ahead at how the resilience of the Haitian people and the support of the international community is bringing important milestones ever closer.