|dc.description.abstract||[Preface]. The 12 January 2010 earthquake was the latest and most devastating of many
major sudden-impact natural disasters affecting Haiti in the last 10 years. It was
also one of a series of sudden emergencies that mobilized the international community on a global scale.
The response to Haiti, especially in the health sector, has been generous, even
overwhelming. This internal and external response met considerable challenges
and problems, some of its own making. As was the case in the response to the
Indian Ocean tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake, not all those challenges were
The objective of this publication is to draw the lessons to be learned for improving the health response in future sudden-onset disasters. We know that massive
earthquakes will occur again and some will devastate metropolitan areas or even
the capital city, as was the case in Haiti. Haiti is the subject of this study, hopefully
not the object, as Haiti has had her share of catastrophes.
The scope of the book is limited to the health response, health being defined in its
broad sense, not merely medical care or disease control. The review is confined to
the immediate and early response in the first three months, the period during which
most of the international assistance was mobilized and influences, for better or worse,
rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The publication focuses specially but not exclusively on those lessons that are of
general interest, i.e., not specific to the special case of Haiti. The international
community has much to learn from the response in Haiti where it has shown an
ability to repeat its errors and shortcomings from past disasters.
The methodology used for this study is common to most evaluations: in-depth
review of reports, evaluations, studies, and peer-reviewed scientific publications;
over 150 interviews, half of them carried out exclusively for this study and others
for similar evaluations carried out by one of the three authors; circulation of the
draft to all interviewees for factual validation and comments on the authors’ interpretation of the findings; and, finally, discussion with a review board convened