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New $20M Fund To Support Haitian Small-, Medium-Sized Businesses Announced After First Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee Meeting

Former President Bill Clinton along with Mexican telecom executive Carlos Slim and Frank Guistra, a Canadian “mining magnet,” on Thursday announced “a $20 million fund to help support the expansion and creation of small- and medium-size Haitian businesses,” the Miami Herald reports.

“Before the Jan. 12 earthquake, such businesses made up more than 80 percent of Haiti’s economy. They also accounted for more than 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product lost after the quake. Following the quake, many Haitians have been unable to get conventional bank loans,” the newspaper writes. Slim and Guistra said they would each donate $10 million to the fund (Daniel/Charles, 6/17).

The fund is “expected to grow from additional contributions and earnings from the loans over time,” the Associated Press reports.

“We hope to empower entrepreneurs with the tools to transform their aspirations, hard work, and good ideas into profitable businesses that create jobs and help fuel the growth of the Haitian economy,” Clinton said. “Clinton, a U.N. special envoy to Haiti, was in the country to attend the first meeting of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee, which will oversee the more than $5 billion pledged by the international community for reconstruction,” the news service notes (6/18).

The “largely procedural meeting” was co-chaired by Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, according to Agence France-Presse. At the meeting, “Bellerive defended the recovery effort and tapped into popular fears that the pledged funds might never arrive. ‘We are not going to make plans when we don’t know how much money we will actually have,’ he said. ‘We did that in the past and saw the results.'”

AFP notes that the meeting was “closed to the public, but Clinton declared his intention to hold open sessions in the future. ‘The prime minister and I made a commitment to the people of Haiti and the people of the world to make this process transparent and accountable,’ Clinton said” (Speri, 6/21).

News Outlets Look At Haitian Health System’s Prospects

The Dallas Morning News reports on what the closing of Haiti’s Centre Hospitalier du Sacre’-Coeur (CDTI), a private medical facility, means for the local health system. “CDTI’s troubles illustrate a great paradox in Haiti. Thanks to volunteer doctors from abroad and donated medical supplies, health care here has never been better. But local doctors and private hospitals are dying,” according to the newspaper.

After examining the factors that led to the closing of CDTI, which was one of the most modern hospitals in the country, the article looks at how the influx of foreign medical assistance could affect the country’s health system in the long-term. “Haitian doctors agree that the prospects for patients have never been better. But what happens when the money dries up and foreign doctors leave? The medical system could be worse than ever” (Farwell, 6/20). 

Haitian Health Minister Alex Larsen recently discussed the need for the country to train and retain health workers as Haiti rebuilds, PBS’ NewsHour’s “The Rundown” blog reports. “Speaking through a translator, Larsen emphasized the need to train and retain health care workers by providing better salaries and incentives to stay in the country, and by keeping foreign recruiters from luring Haitian trained workers away as soon as they receive diplomas,” the blog writes.

Larsen participated in a panel discussion on the future of Haiti’s health system. Andre Vulcain, faculty liaison of the Haiti Project at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Donna Barry, advocacy and policy manager for Partners in Health, also spoke on the panel.

According to the blog, “Already a public health school is being created to train mid-level workers, meaning community health workers, midwives and nurses. The country also hopes to capitalize on increased interest from outside medical universities willing to play an educational role in Haiti” (Miller, 6/17).

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