Presentation:   US Public Health Service’s Involvement in Operation Unified Response – Haiti

Speaker:          LCDR Trent D. LeCoultre, MSEH, REHS

 

 

The US Public Health Service was requested by the US Navy to participate as part of Operation Unified Response aboard the USS Bataan following the January 2010 earthquakes in Haiti.  One of the main functions of this team was to provide water and sanitation expertise to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and to perform water and sanitation assessments at internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Grand Goave, Petite Goave, Leogane, and Carrefour. 

 

 

The US Public Health Service (USPHS) was requested by the US Navy to participate as part of Operation Unified Response aboard the USS Bataan following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  The ten-person team was embarked aboard the USS Bataan for at least 28 days – some were aboard for over six weeks.  US Navy and Marine assets provided force protection and logistical support for the team while on the ground in Haiti.  Four of the team members (two Engineers, an Environmental Health Officer, and a preventive medicine doctor) were tasked with providing technical assistance and assessments of the water and sanitation needs for internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Grand Goave, Petite Goave, Leogane, and Carrefour. Assessments were conducted in collaboration and coordination with water and sanitation service providers: the DINEPA (Haitian water regulatory), US Navy Construction Battalion (Sea Bees), various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and religious missions. Upon arrival the USPHS water and sanitation detachment found that a lack of coordination, collaboration, and communication inhibited the provision of water and sanitation needs at IDP camps. This changed over the course of several weeks in which the USPHS, DINEPA, United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UN-OCHA), US Military’s Civil-Military Operation Center (COMC), and the NGOs developed a more organized approach to provide water and sanitation services to displaced people in Haiti.

 

Learning Objectives

 

At the end of this session, attendees will be able to:

1.       Understand the role of the US Public Health Service during disaster/humanitarian response missions.

2.       Appreciate the intrinsic challenges of being deployed as a Department of Defense asset.

3.       Understand the coordination involved in effectively and efficiently managing a public health response in a developing foreign country.