Unacceptable Causes and Poor Standards in International Development

The poor need proper equipment to raise their standard

CBS News interviewed Dr. Paul Farmer before the opening of a state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.

They shared the story of an expecting mother in a small under-equipped hospital that needed oxygen for herself and her undelivered child. Unfortunately there was only one oxygen machine available in the hospital. That machine was taken from the bed of a premature infant and moved to save the others.
The preemie died from the loss of oxygen.

The CBS video then suggested that this was an “Unacceptable cause due to the lack of proper equipment”.  Sadly, Haiti has many unacceptable tragedies from the low standards that have been set for them.

As the interview continued Dr. Farmer stated: “Haiti deserves better than the sharp end of a stick” and then said that we must stop “setting standards based upon whether they are poor”.

What Partners in Health and Dr. Farmer are demonstrating in a medical context is that poverty shouldn’t force people to survive without the proper machines. Especially when there are good machines that could be provided with just a little more effort. Partners in Heath has established a high standard in the way that they serve and then they are providing the right tools to lift the local standard upward in a sustainable way. This new hospital will have many oxygen machines, and these machines will save many lives.

Good machines should also be the standard for construction projects in Haiti as well. History has demonstrated that proper construction machines and good processes will save lives in the worlds poorest regions.

When we hear people say that Haiti just makes bad concrete because they are poor, it makes us crazy…   Just because they are poor they shouldn’t be forced to live with sub-standard concrete.  We believe that they would benefit from machines that produce stronger concrete and it would save them from a crushing death in the next earthquake!

It is true that machines alone will not make the difference. But machines represent a part of a working concrete supply chain that will raise the standard of construction in developing nations.  The same way that oxygen machines enhance the breathing of patients in the hospital, construction machines will extend the life of the buildings in Haiti.

The Mirebalais hospital is built to be a teaching hospital so the new oxygen machines will be enhanced with appropriate training. Likewise, construction machines must become part of a plan to raise the level of construction training in Haiti.

The combination of modern machines and good training will elevate the standards and reduce the unacceptable causes that result from poverty.  We commend Dr. Farmer for his understanding of the need for better machines and higher standards. We call upon other leaders within international development to end the unacceptable causes that result from the lack of proper equipment.

Bruce Christensen is the author at CementTrust

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About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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