IOCC Addresses Growing Public Health Concerns in Haiti

Open spaces, like this golf course, have been utilized throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as camps for homeless families who survived the January 12 earthquake. The shelters offer little protection from the elements or against mosquito-borne and diseases. IOCC and its partners have been providing water purification equipment, sanitation facilities and other supplies to help improve health conditions for survivors in camps like these. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance)

Baltimore, MD (March 3, 2010) — Seasonal rains in Haiti are aggravating the humanitarian situation caused by the earthquake and putting the populace at increasing risk for mosquito-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria. In response to the urgent health needs of Haitians, many who are still without adequate shelter following the January 12 earthquake, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is providing more than $350,000 in emergency health kits that contain basic medicines, consumable medical supplies for surgeries and wound care treatment.

The medical shipment has been underwritten through a grant of $25,000 from The John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation of Pittsburgh, Pa.

“There is growing concern among those responding to Haiti of the increased risk of wide-spread public health problems,” said Mark Ohanian, IOCC senior programs coordinator, who recently returned from a nine-day trip to Haiti to oversee IOCC relief efforts. “While we continue to support the efforts of our Orthodox Christian and ecumenical partners in providing immediate food, shelter and other basic needs, we witnessed significant threats to public health while in Haiti.”

Ohanian noted that most open spaces in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding cities have been taken up by temporary shelters, many made of materials scavenged from homes and buildings that were destroyed.

“Most of the shelters do not provide adequate protection from the rain or the elements, much less protect against mosquito-borne and water-borne diseases. Proper sanitation and protection are primary concerns for the survivors to prevent further loss of life.”

The medical shipment is part of a larger effort by IOCC partner, Medical Teams International, to provide up to 20,000 people with basic medical assistance. The shipment will include medications to treat malaria.

A woman fastens poles for rafters together with strips of cloth as she builds a temporary home in a camp for quake survivors north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Proper sanitation and protection are primary concerns for the survivors to prevent further loss of life. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance)

IOCC anticipates additional projects in Haiti focused on providing shelter, supporting the delivery of health services, sanitation and the provision of essential food and non-food supplies for families.

As Haitians begin the long process of recovering from the quake, IOCC’s efforts have increasingly focused on providing medical assistance and projects aimed at improving public health conditions. The airlift of medicines and medical supplies to Haiti is the second such shipment by IOCC in the last month. IOCC has also provided water purification equipment, sanitation equipment, wheelchairs for the disabled, health promotion projects in some of the make-shift encampments for the homeless and an ambulance for transportation of sick and injured Haitians.

IOCC’s ongoing efforts in Haiti are being supported by the gifts of Orthodox Christians, including hundreds of parishes who have contributed financial support as well as hygiene kits. IOCC also recently received more than $44,000 from His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos on behalf of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA.

IOCC, which has now provided more than $2 million in assistance to Haiti since January, is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like the Haiti Earthquake, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.