A Year On The Front Lines In Haiti
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Now to a doctor who spent much of last year dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. David Walton is with the group Partners in Health. He's worked in Haiti for 15 years. Welcome to the program, Dr. Walton.
DAVID WALTON: Thanks so much for having me.
NORRIS: You know, I'd like to get a sense from you of what the last year has been like. Immediately after the earthquake you were treating victims in the general hospital in Port-au-Prince and then later you had to deal with the cholera outbreak and people who were still trying to find a stable place to live. As you reflect back, what's your predominant feeling on this anniversary?
WALTON: But as I reflect on the year and I look around, you know, not much has changed. There are some places in Port-au-Prince that you would think the earthquake happened two weeks ago, three weeks ago. There's been a lot of talk about the aid that's come through and a lot of talk about everything that has been done. But overall I think we haven't been as successful as we could be. You know, this is the latest chapter in the tragedy that is Haiti.
MARTIN: How do you control something like that? What is the hope there? How do you bring that kind of thing under control?
WALTON: So unless we deal with the underlying issues that allowed cholera to spread so rapidly, it will almost be impossible to control.
NORRIS: I know that there aren't any simple answers, but is there something that's somewhat simple that could be done almost immediately to help bring this under control?
WALTON: Also, I think there has to be massive investments in creating new systems for potable water, distributing chlorine tabs to the population. You know, people here have been suffering for a long time from a variety of maladies, from really horrendous living conditions, et cetera. And because things are so bad, you know, to incrementally improve the situation isn't as hard as it would seem.
NORRIS: How long will you stay in Haiti?
WALTON: I'm here for the long term. I have the privilege of being able to work here, splitting my time between here and Boston. And, you know, this is my life's calling. And so, I expect to die here an old man.
NORRIS: Well, Dr. Walton, I hope that we'll have other opportunities to talk to you in the future. Thank you very much for your time.
WALTON: Thanks so much for having me.
NORRIS: Dr. David Walton is the deputy chief of mission to Haiti for Partners in Health. He's in Mirebalais, that's 40 miles north of Port-au-Prince.
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