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Vivien Lesnik Weisman Headshot

Haitians Die As International Relief Organizations Can't Deliver

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As I watch CNN's Anderson Cooper discuss with Sanjay Gupta the lack of medical care and basic medical supplies, such as antibiotics, six days into the crisis in Haiti, I need to read between the lines to figure out what seems to be holding things up on the ground.

Cooper and Gupta gingerly skirt around the issue and are careful not to impute blame on any one organization or country. Still, Cooper did conclude that decisions being made in Geneva are perhaps costing lives here on the ground. He pointed the finger at large international organizations.

In my previous blog "International Rescue Workers Afraid of Poor Black Haitians," I explain the lack of rescuers and relief workers in the most devastated neighborhoods within Haiti as rooted in fear of the Haitian people because they are different, poor, or black.

Both Gupta and Cooper agreed that the doctors who are here in Haiti need to get on with their business of healing, however imperfect the facilities and supplies and that their supervisors and the UN need to put their security reservations aside because people are dying while they are assessing and strategizing. Moreover, if the basic services are not delivered very soon the violence that is so feared will become reality.

Missing from Cooper's excellent coverage and Gupta's expert medical assessment is any mention of the 350 to 400 Cuban doctors who were here before the crisis administering free medical care. While the Belgian doctors where being whisked away due to security considerations the Cubans were operating in full force.

The day after the earthquake struck the Cuban doctors reopened two hospitals. The very day of the quake the Cuban doctors started administering treatment directly from their livingrooms. Since the Cubans live in the poor neighborhoods amongst the poor Haitians they were actually the first responders. We hear about the international doctors who have arrived from Doctors Without Borders and the Israeli Operating Center but no mention of the Cubans. It is so disheartening that these doctors who are doing a great deal of the timely work in the most needed areas are given no mention or credit.

If you would like to support the Cuban trained Haitan doctors on the ground working right now with their own people and alongside the almost 400 Cuban doctors give here.