Helping in Haiti

Haiti earthquake destruction
A denuded road shoulder after an earthquake. (Courtesy of Edsel Redden)

Faculty from the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute have long worked in Haiti, both on study projects and in a volunteer capacity. The town of Baraderes has been the EPI’s base for several studies. This community, which several UF faculty are familiar with, suffered substantial damage after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck nearby on August 14. It is the worst quake in Haiti since 2010, when a magnitude 7.0 struck near the country’s capital. Members of the UF community also helped in Baraderes with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. 

Haiti earthquake destruction
A road after the earthquake in Haiti. (Courtesy of Edsel Redden)

Retired UF staff member Edsel Redden helped mobilize and distribute aid in Baraderes after the recent quake, these are his photos. Rugged roads reveal the obstacles that must be overcome to bring aid to remote rural Haitian communities. The aid work is being carried out with cooperation from staff at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy at the State University of Haiti. Along with a non-profit organization, the Kore Foundation, Redden helped coordinate food distribution for people in need. The foundation committed to distributing 21 tons of rice, beans and cooking oil. Redden previously worked in Haiti during his career at UF with the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute. After retirement, he maintained an interest in the area and its people.

Building damage post earthquake
Building damage. (Courtesy of Edsel Redden)

This is part of the Baraderes medical complex that was destroyed by the earthquake in August. Researchers from UF formerly used a lab on the ground floor of this building for various projects. Anthony Maurelli, a UF professor in the College of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Environmental and Gobal Health, worked here in 2017 while conducting an epidemiological surveillance study. Maurelli, who is also an EPI faculty member, first became involved with the surrounding community through his church in 2008.

Earthquake building damage
Building damage after the earthquake. (Courtesy of Edsel Redden)

The lab used by Maurelli and UF-EPI/PHHP included two rooms in a building next to this one. His group performed screenings there for sexually transmitted infections. Faculty from UF hired and trained Haitians to work in the lab. They tested anyone older than 18 who came to the clinic and who agreed to be tested (after receiving informed consent) for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. The UF team generally reported back results within a day or two and referred positive cases to the hospital pharmacy where patients received antibiotics for free. People at the hospital and in the village were very excited about the project, Maurelli said.

Earthquake building damage
Building damage after an earthquake in Haiti. (Courtesy of Edsel Redden)

Maurelli started the project before coming to UF. It was funded by the US Department of Defense. When the funding expired, the project was halted. Maurelli has not been able to fund a new study at this site.

Written by: DeLene Beeland