Preval Hits the Road: Dicusses Public Health and Self-Reliance
Haitian leaders tend to get bogged down in ever-unstable Port au Prince. It is a matter of political survival. However, most of Haiti is rural and certainly most of what is good about Haiti is to be found outside of its largest city. Recently President Preval made a public tour of the Central Plateau. We were happy to see that public health was a recurring theme of his trip. Regardless of one's political beliefs, we can all agree increased attention to public health is essential. When a person has health, a person has hope. Where there is hope, there is also the possibility of development and a better future.
Preval spent two days in the Central Plateau. While there he inaugarated a new hospital in Lascahobas, brought about by Partners in Health in conjunction with Americares and the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP).
During an Independence Day Speech Preval gave in Gonaives, he mentioned the creation of a series of sport/cultural centers throughout Haiti. He said the first would be in Lascohabas. He also vowed the creation of a medical diagnostic center (Cuba has promised to equip such centers).
Preval noted the need for a proper medical school and we couldn't agree more. An over-reliance on Cuban doctors is just a stop-gap measure. Enough Haitian health care providers - doctors, nurses, social workers alike - must be trained to meet the needs of the national population. If expertise must be imported, it will never be sustainable. That having been said, if the infrastructure and equipment exists for doctors to do their job properly, we anticipate a number of health care providers from the Haitian Diaspora would likely be willing to return. After all, lakay se lakay.
He also noted that national production was necessary to bring down the cost of essential goods. It seems as if everything is imported in Haiti, and as oil fluctuates, so do the prices of these goods. National production will help Haiti to be more self reliant and less dependent. But as he noted, peace and security will be a pre-requisite before self-reliance is possible.
Haiti is a rural country, not urban. It is easy to forget that though when one is fighting traffic to leave Port au Prince. As the needs of the rural majority are met, the less people will feel the need to come to the capital. We hope that this will not be Preval's last trip to the countryside and we also hope that he will be the first leader in a great while to pay attention to rural needs.
Promoting public health, preserving the environment, and creating jobs reinforce each other - we have to tackle all three at once. Welcome your thoughts.