USAID & Federal Working Group Update on Disabilities in Haiti

February 12, 2010

Haiti Disability/Rehabilitation Update – February 12, 2010


USAID and the Inter-Agency Federal Working Group



  • The GoH has declared Friday (and the weekend) as days of mourning for the victims. February 12 is the one month anniversary of the earthquake.
  • Government of Haiti (GoH) has asked that any organizations planning to come to Haiti to work should be willing to commit to "long-term" projects (i.e. longer than one month).
  • Ministry of Health (MoH) has also asked that groups currently/planning work in Haiti please conform to MoH salary and salary structure.
  • The GoH is quite involved in setting the plan and strategy forward. Within the disability and rehabilitation sector, there are 3 main POCs: 1) Dr. Pean, Secretary of State for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities; 2) Dr. Surena, MoH responsible for emergency phase; and 3) Dr. Jessie Pierre, MoH contact for physical rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation (Haiti based)

  • During the Feb 10 working group meeting on Injury, Rehabilitation and Disability, the GoH recognized the importance of a National Plan for Disability and Rehabilitation. This plan did not exist before the earthquake. The GoH has put this as one of their many priorities and have targeted March 1 to have at least a first solid draft.
  • Dr. Norman Lanzas of WHO arrived in Haiti on Feb 11 and will remain in-country until March 9. His role is to provide technical support for the working group as well as support for the GoH in developing the National Plan.
  • There is recognition of the need to have an additional working group that encourages more DPO participation and discussion of broader issues and needs related to persons with disabilities. Dr. Pean has indicated that he will establish and lead this group once he is able to settle in to a more permanent office situation next week.
  • The working group on Injury, Rehabilitation and Disability (IRD) meets every Wednesday at 2pm. There were 45 participants including representatives of the GoH at the meeting. Because this attendance was 3 times the size of the previous two meetings, there was extensive introduction of new participants. The IRD working group is looking to achieve the following:

o        Create a specific table of who/what/where related to disability and rehabilitation.

o        Develop a mapping of services available (P&O, PT, stump revision, rehabilitation)

o        Provide a forum where individuals/organizations can meet to link needs to services

o        Identify human or material resources needed and transmit this to external sources

o        Serve as a central source of information related to disability and rehabilitation.

  • If you would like to be added to the sub-cluster email list, please send a note to:
  • The P&O sector has developed main principles with regard to support for Haiti:
    1. Don’t send prosthetic legs to Haiti. Dismantled components are fine, but no legs. That said, see the point #5 below;
    2. Please do not medivac Haitians out of the country for rehabilitation. Services are being set up in country.
    3. Any activities/services should have a Haitian capacity building component. For example, taking cast of patients, sending those somewhere else for prosthetic manufacture, and then returning to fit the patient does not build the capacity of Haitians to provide these services in the future.
    4. There should be consideration for geographic coverage. Most services/service providers want to work in PaP. There should be broader geographic coverage of services.
    5. There needs to be some compatibility of componentry for P&O. While the MoH is not advocating for a specific technology, they are concerned that there will be so many different technologies and components in use that it will be difficult to repair prosthesis later.
  • There are a number of P&O initiatives underway -  the emerging concern is the quality of amputations made during the emergency phase and the potential need for stump revisions to enable adequate prosthetic fitting.
  • USAID will provide 250 durable, adjustable wheelchairs and 2,000 pairs of aluminum crutches in both adult and pediatric sizes. The sub-cluster and MoH will also work to identify other DME needs that they have and will communicate those needs. This way we can all work to identify items/equipment that service providers and the GoH of Haiti specifically needs.
  • USAID has an ongoing agreement with the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics for, among other things, scholarships to attend P&O schools. 3 Haitians are already in school at the University Don Bosco (UDB) in El Salvador. UDB has agreed to prioritize Haitians to attend the school and will work with the GoH to obtain approval to attend. USAID will provide scholarship assistance. Distance learning will also be incorporated in to the capacity building efforts for Haitians once telecommunications are reliable.


Disability (Haiti based)

  • As noted above, an additional group will be organized to address the broader needs of disability. This group will be led by Dr. Pean, himself a person with blindness and the head of the Haitian Blind association.
  • Disability and inclusive recovery/development efforts are being promoted in all cluster group meetings. These include shelter, food security, education, protection, water/sanitation, etc.  Of key importance is the input for the development of newly established camps to ensure accessibility on multiple levels.  In each of those meetings, they are proactively and forcefully insisting that the functional needs of PWDs be taken into consideration in each of these sectors.

Federal Initiatives

  • Rob will be meeting with Department of Education folks to discuss the education needs of PWDs in Haiti. The DoE sits on the inter-agency education working group. After the initial meeting, the hope is to pull together a more diverse group of experts and expertise who can provide advice on the educational needs of PWDs.
  • The U.S. Access Board has identified a POC who is now working with the infrastructure working group to advise them on accessibility. Rob will contact Betty Dion at GAATES to link them in to this working group as well.
  • Members of the federal inter-agency disability group are part of the inter-agency reconstruction working group.
  • Members of the federal inter-agency disability group participated in potential supplemental budget discussions. Under the health budget, a separate line item has been added for disability and rehabilitation. As well, discussions were held about ensuring that all sectors take into account the functional needs of people with disabilities in their budgets and plans. It was agreed that disability should be included as a cross-cutting theme within the reconstruction efforts and budgeting process.
  • HHS has developed a preliminary grid with potential clinical scenarios with disabling conditions and the respective care needs that can be helpful to this process. This will be shared when it is completed.