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Opinions: Haiti Relief And Recovery; Tuberculosis Control

Ahead of a U.N. donors conference focusing on Haiti tomorrow, several editorials and opinion pieces address the country’s needs for relief and recovery.

  • This week’s donor conference is “a tangible expression of solidarity with the Haitian government and its people,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a Washington Post editorial. “For weeks, experts have been assessing the needs and costs of the disaster. In tandem, Haiti’s president and government have worked out a strategic national ‘action plan’ to guide recovery and development. It is a visionary document,” Ban writes.

    Ban outlines both the immediate and long-term needs in Haiti. “As we move from emergency aid to longer-term reconstruction, let us recognize that we cannot accept business as usual. What we envision today is nothing less than a wholesale national renewal. In partnership with the international community, Haiti’s leaders are committing to a new social contract with their people. That means fully democratic government, grounded in sound economic and social policies that address extreme poverty and deep-rooted disparities of wealth. It also means fair and free elections, conducted with U.N. help, preferably by the end of this year. … At the end of the day, only Haitians can build Haiti back better,” Ban writes (3/29).

  • “The task of rebuilding Haiti will fall on the international community — that much is clear. And I believe we can do it most effectively if we have a coordinated strategy for our efforts,” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) writes in a Miami Herald opinion piece. Dodd says the international community “cannot pretend that Haiti can lead its own reconstruction. Fortunately, there is precedent for situations in which the international community must intervene to ensure that a troubled country can look forward to a brighter future.”

    Dodd discusses the U.N. International Trusteeship System as a possible model for managing Haiti rather than the current “ad-hoc” organization. “Haiti — an independent sovereign nation and a United Nations member — would not be eligible for trusteeship. But … the U.N. mission can be broadened to coordinate the various international actors currently working in Haiti. … The goal is simple: Provide Haitians with a legitimate, functional state — one capable of managing the day-to-day tasks of government and providing security, economic stability, and social services. This won’t work without the Haitian people and their elected leaders — it must be done with them, not to them” (3/29).

  • A Washington Post editorial lays out the case for “a sense of urgency” in Haiti, where “the needs are still dire, and Haiti’s ability to address them remains extremely limited.” As donors discuss recovery plans, “[t]he exact dollar figures and timeline are less important than setting clear priorities, establishing structures to fund them transparently and making it unambiguous that international help for Haiti in the wake of January’s calamity will be sustained in the long term,” the editorial states.

    “There is much talk of the importance of ‘getting Haiti right’ after so many years of squandered and ineffectual aid and the afflictions of natural disasters and poor governance. For the time being, it’s more important simply to get Haiti upright, which means continuing to focus resources now on the neediest — the homeless, the sick and the hungry” (3/29).

  • A New York Times editorial asserts that to successfully remake Haiti, “the commitments made this week will need to be sustained for many years, and the rebuilding will need to clear away more than just rubble. It will need to sweep out the old, bad ways of doing things, not only those of the infamously corrupt and hapless government, but also of aid and development agencies, whose nurturing of Haiti has been a manifest failure for more than half a century. The good news is that even before the Jan. 12 earthquake, international donors had largely reached a consensus on what they had done wrong, and how to get Haiti right.”

    The editorial outlines ideas from the rebuilding plan to be presented this week, and concludes, “Haiti may yet escape the crushing legacy of its tragic history, propelled by the opportunity that this latest tragedy creates. The government of President Rene Preval has not inspired confidence in its handling of the relief effort, but it has a chance to shake off its inertia and show it wants to get the rebuilding right, beginning this week” (3/27).

‘United Front’ Needed To Battle Tuberculosis

“Tuberculosis may be on the decline in the United States, but it’s still a stubborn and deadly problem in South Texas — and in many other parts of the world, including Mexico,” a San Antonio Express-News editorial states. The piece looks at efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border to fight TB and “prevent the spread of drug-resistant strains of the disease.”

The editorial concludes, “Foreign-born people in the U.S. accounted for about 60 percent of all cases reported in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of the cases were among those born in Mexico, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. A united front against what is still considered one of the world’s deadliest diseases will aid both countries to control tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant TB” (3/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.