CDC Foundation’s $3.2 Million Partnership Strengthens Haiti’s Public Health Infrastructure

Feb 25, 2013 3:15 PM ET
Campaign: Health at GE

February 25, 2013 /3BL Media/ - The ribbon-cutting ceremonies for two new public health buildings in Haiti’s capital city mark another milestone in the country’s recovery and rebuilding since the 2010 earthquake. The buildings will be used by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP or Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population), MSPP’s Division of Epidemiology, Laboratory and Research (Direction d’Epidémiologie, de Laboratoire et de Recherches or DELR) and the Haiti office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they work to strengthen the country’s public health systems.

“'Building back better’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality in public health. These buildings represent an important step forward to save lives in Haiti. We are grateful to the CDC Foundation and their generous partners for their support and collaboration following one of the worst natural disasters in history,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director. “These new buildings have an importance far beyond their physical presence—they will serve as a basis and catalyst for programs that will save literally tens of thousands of lives.”

The two new buildings help in the transition of Haiti’s MSPP from temporary to permanent facilities following the earthquake.

One building replaces the MSPP facility destroyed in the earthquake. This building will serve as a central office from which public health activities will be managed in Haiti by Dr. Florence Guillaume, Minister of Public Health and Population, and her staff. The second building for MSPP’s DELR is located in the National Public Health Laboratory (Laboratoire National de Santé Publique) complex and houses a portion of MSPP’s surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory staff and CDC’s staff in Haiti, who are now working side-by-side in the country. Haiti’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) is housed in the building as well. FETP is a CDC effort that works with ministries of health, along with other partners, to train public health workers to detect, investigate, and control threats to public health. The FETP program in Haiti was established after the earthquake.

CDC Foundation partners financed the buildings through donations and in-kind support. The building for Haitian DELR and CDC staff was funded by a $2 million contribution from the GE Foundation and a $500,000 contribution from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Kaiser Permanente donated $587,000 for the MSPP central office. Partner funding for both buildings also provided furnishings, fixtures, electronics, computers, printers, and internet connectivity. In-kind contributions were provided by Proteus On-Demand to increase the size of the MSPP building and make enhancements within the facility.

“We are grateful that our partners recognized the need for a comprehensive response to the earthquake in Haiti and for their generous contributions to build these new facilities,” said Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “As CDC’s nonprofit partner, the CDC Foundation is positioned to help CDC and its public health partners secure crucial resources. This effort is an example of how public-private partnerships can make significant contributions to benefit public health.”

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Haiti’s MSPP, CDC, the CDC Foundation and the group of project funders gathered at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Port-au-Prince. Also recognized at the ceremony was medical technology company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), which last year donated more than 1.7 million syringes and 15,000 BD™ sharps collectors for a national measles and rubella immunization campaign in Haiti.

MSPP’s Dr. Guillaume said, “These investments are another positive action helping to move Haiti’s public health system from the disaster and recovery phase into a longer-term solution. Importantly, these two new buildings have encouraged additional investments. As an example, the investments by the CDC Foundation’s partners in our new MSPP building helped leverage additional support from the United Nations (UN) and USAID for an expanded MSPP complex. When this complex opens, it will include an additional 11 buildings to house 250 Haitian public health workers. Altogether, these investments will create synergies to better serve the public health needs of the Haitian people.”

Haiti has faced tremendous challenges following the 2010 earthquake, which took more than 200,000 lives and displaced over 2 million Haitians. Haiti’s MSPP demonstrated foresight in working to address emergency response needs while initiating long-term strategic plans that are improving health in Haiti.

According to CDC, Haiti is expanding public health services beyond those in place before the earthquake:

  • There are now twice as many people on treatment for HIV than before the earthquake.
  • HIV testing of pregnant women has increased by 55 percent.
  • The government has trained technicians who are routinely testing water and providing education about improved sanitation throughout the country. 
  • Vaccination rates for children are nearly twice as high. Before 2010, measles vaccine coverage was just 47 percent. Following the recent 2012 campaign, 91 percent of children sampled were vaccinated against measles-rubella.
  • Three new vaccines are being introduced that will prevent the deaths of thousands of children.
  • Haiti is on track to eliminate lymphatic filariasis. For the first time mass drug treatment is beginning to protect the entire population, which has been at risk from this permanently disabling, disfiguring, and painful disease. Known as elephantiasis, LF is caused by worms and carried by infected mosquitoes.

These achievements were detailed in a recent Lancet commentary (article included in press kit) by CDC, “Cautious optimism on public health in post-earthquake Haiti.”

Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do more, faster, by forging effective partnerships between CDC and corporations, foundations and individuals to support CDC’s 24/7 work to fight threats to health and safety. The CDC Foundation manages approximately 200 CDC-led programs in the United States and in countries around the world. For more information, please visit