Why would a doctor working in Haiti for 15 years think that lawyers have the best chance of controlling Haiti’s cholera epidemic?
In my experience in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau, unsafe drinking water has always been one of the greatest killers. Across Haiti, water-borne diseases killed over 3,000 people each year –mostly children– even before the United Nations introduced a horrible cholera epidemic. The situation in Haiti is critical.
Medical professionals can save lives through treatment and reduce risk of illness through vaccinations. But until Haitians have safe water, we will continue to see our patients and their neighbors die by the thousands each year of cholera and other treatable, preventable diseases.
So WHY do lawyers have the best chance of controlling Haiti’s cholera epidemic?
The lawyers at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) filed a suit demanding that the UN provide the comprehensive water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic. Health care is not enough. This infrastructure would save tens of thousands of lives!
I will keep using my medical training to save lives from cholera and other diseases that we should not have in the 21st century. BUT I will also support the BAI and IJDH lawyers in their fight to eliminate these diseases from my caseload and all for all the people of Haiti.
Evan Lyon, MD
Pritzker School of Medicine
University of Chicago
P.S. Click here to watch a short video and learn how Mario Joseph, BAI Managing Attorney, and his team are compelling the UN to provide clean water infrastructure that will save 70,000 lives over 10 years.
*A note on the photo above: IJDH deliberated using this photo because we understand that some might find the photo exploitative or that it reinforces negative stereotypes about Haiti. We ultimately decided to include it because we believe that its powerful imagery brings cholera’s horrible reality to people with the ability to join the Haitians’ fight for justice. If you are interested in exploring the issue further, the photographer discussed his own conflicting emotions about photographing in Haiti here, and IJDH Board Member Paul Farmer discussed a similar issue in this 2003 article. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have reactions to the photo, we would love to hear from you.
Click HERE to See more Information about IJDH’s Cholera Accountability Project