From the Executive Director:
I recently returned from the NHAHP conference this year humbled by the incredible work being done by others in health care, and inspired by the insights we shared. Environmental health initiatives are a crucial element of our mission at the JDT Foundation.
Much of the best work being done in health care centers on building relationships—bridging the gaps between Haitians and her diaspora, innovation and available technology, and vision and resources.
We realize that we must help Haitians become the generator of the health care system. The path to building ownership is important, and part of the process includes developing partnerships with the local government. It is important for policy makers and health care providers to maintain the philosophy of accompaniment:
- Approach to serve—without enabling dependency
- Consider opportunities to teach and empower
- Go to help grow and strengthen an existing system
In a 2009 report, Syme and Ritterman evaluated the importance of community development for health and well- being:
“Few topics are more important to health than community development. At first, this assertion seems a wild exaggeration when considered in relation to other important contributors to health, such as high-quality medical care, healthy behavior, and good genetic stock. However, substantial evidence reveals that environmental and community forces also are important determinants of health. This observation is critical for those involved in the development of affordable housing and enhanced community facilities for people living in low-income neighborhoods. The evidence now shows that no matter how elegantly wrought a physical solution, no matter how efficiently designed a park, no matter how safe and sanitary a building, unless the people living in those neighborhoods can in some way participate in the creation and management of these facilities, the results will not be as beneficial as we might hope. It turns out that, for maximum benefit, physical improvements must be accompanied by improvements in the social fabric of the community.”
Syme and Ritterman, The Importance of Community Development For Health and Well-Being, Community Development, Investment Review, Vol 5, (3) 2009
Great disparities remain in Haiti, but we also see new opportunities. We envision initiative, talent, technology, and program development combining together to make change where change did not happen before. We can re-imagine health care delivery models for the poor in Haiti and other developing nations. They key is that health care providers in Haiti will lead the way.