On Haiti and Health Care

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

I first went to Haiti in the late 70’s when I was still a photographer on the staff of the Hudson Dispatch in Union City, NJ. My wife Peggy and I were so blown away by the culture, people, and the poverty that we sponsored several Haitian children’s educations for many years, until the NGO we did it through folded up during one of the really violent spells a while ago.

They have a saying down there, “beyond mountains, there are more mountains,” which pretty much sums up what has happened to this nation in recent history. Every time they seem to be getting over the hump of one problem, another bigger and more serious one raises its ugly head.

I don’t see how this current problem could get any worse, and they need our help. We like to give through both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. They seem to be efficient with getting stuff done. Although efficiency in the face of a total collapse of infrastructure is definitely a relative term.

On the home front, we’re going to be facing our own earthquake, one that was started in the faultline that shook up yesterday’s Massachusetts runoff.

No, we don’t need no stinkin’ health care reform. Our system is just fine. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at this brilliant multimedia from the AP’s Evan Vucci.

The sad reality is that you don’t really have to look as far as Haiti to see neglected, desperate segments of a population struggling for basic healthcare. You can stay home and see it right here.

No passport required.

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Bob – I don’t think anyone disagrees with the need to reform healthcare. Where we strongly disagree is how to achieve it …

    1. Hi Mary: Ah, I wasn’t aware of all the alternate plans being floated…Bob

  2. We need healthcare reform NOW.
    Makes me ashamed to be living in the USA that we cannot sort this out.

  3. The dearth of political courage in American politicians is awfully depressing.

    Good on ya, Bob, for posting this!

  4. Bob, Love your work, We do need health care now. I’m always amazed at how some folks can be convinced to vote against their own self interests.

  5. Bob…

    Oh, no, politics. I’ll just say that I have no problem with the government helping out the relatively small percentage of people who cannot afford health care. Lift them up, but don’t bring the rest of us down.

    1. Dana: Relative is a relative term! Those looked like a lot of decent middle class folk in the multimedia. Folks like us. Give it a view! Bob

  6. It’s not that “we don’t need no stinkin’ health care reform”. It’s that we don’t want “reform” which involves hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in bribes to get Senate votes for the plan or union bosses getting tax exemptions for union members so the rest of us have to pay even more.

    1. John: Yes,everybody wants reform. How’d you like the multimedia? Kid can really tell a visual story, IMHO. cheers,Bob

      1. He is indeed very talented.

  7. Wow. This is not what I expected on your blog.

    Way to go. I agree 110% with you.

    In the last year I can’t count the number of stories I’ve done on charity clinics and homeless operations in Phoenix. Each time I say “There but the grace of God (Buddha, Allah, Yahweh who ever). It shocks me that the uber rich in India, Thailand and South Africa come here for health care while upper middle class and working class folks from this country go to India, Thailand and South Africa for health care. Euphemistically called “medical tourism.” I call it a scandal.

    The reaction of some pundits in this country to the Haitian disaster is nothing short of disgusting. (Rush and Robertson and the whole “pact with the devil” crap.)

    FWIW, here’s a blog entry I wrote: http://web.mac.com/kurtzjack/jacks_joint/My_Occasional_Blog/Entries/2010/1/15_Entry_1.html


    1. Jack: I’m just highlighting a great audio slideshow about the indigeneous people of middle America. It’s all travel, bro!

  8. Bob,

    Although this is not something I expected on your blog I fully agree with you.

    Moreover photographers can be effective in affecting social change. Milton Meltzer’s excellent book “The Eye of Conscience: Photographers and Social Change” (unfortunately no longer in print) highlights much social change photographers helped bring about. Who can forget Dorothea Lange’s outstanding work documenting the effects of the Depression on ordinary Americans? http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/I?fsaall:11:./temp/~pp_Zpkl::displayType=1:m856sd=fsa:m856sf=8b29523:@@@

    More recently there has been Margaret Morton’s excellent book “The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City” and Lynn Bodget’s excellent work, “Finding Grace: The Face of America’s Homeless.”

    We need more of this…

    It is hard to understand how we can dither while people needlessly suffer…


    1. Hi Greg: Don’t worry, I’m not planning on making posts like that one a habit, but I was moved by Vucci’s work in the wake of all the misery we’ve been seeing, brilliantly captured, by the photojournaiists in Haiti. Thanks for those other leads as well. I’ll be happy to go back to f/stops and aperture talk! BK

  9. Hi Bob,

    Since I’m originaly from Romania and I live as an expat in Dubai, I can’t claim to know a huge amount about the intricancies of the American healthcare system. However, it never ceases to amaze me the fact that, although Romania is not a rich country compared to the USA, we still get basic public healthcare without all the debates that rage in the US. It might not be as good as the healthcare you get in private hospitals, but it can handle the basics. The same applies for so many of the European countries and yet US can’t seem to get it’s head around it.

    On another note, the video was very nicely put together! Very moving!

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Catalin: Yes, it’s often hard for folks from countries where healthcare is part of the package to understand what goes on over here….it’s hard enough for those of us who live here to get it too! Glad you enjoyed the multimedia. “BK

  10. That multi-media was quite an eye-opener since I live just down the road from Harriman, TN at Oak Ridge. Never saw anything like it in the local media.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Milton: Glad you found it interesting! all the best, BK

  11. Bob, the link seems to be broken at the moment. Any idea if it’s on your end or Evan Vucci’s end? Technical difficulties somewhere.


    1. Mike: Sorry about that. I think it may be his site. This is the locater, if the site goes up again: http://www.evanvucci.com/the-uninsured.
      It may be up on other sites on the internet, but now you have his name and the show’s name, so maybe a Google search. I’ll keep trying here, but I’m packing for a trip and up to my eyeballs. Bob

      1. Thanks Bob. I intend to send it around. Will keep checking. Maybe your link brought so many visitors it crashed his site! Heh.

  12. Bob, thanks for your voice on this. I couldn’t agree more. Brilliant piece by Evan Vucci. Safe trip to you in Africa.

  13. Thanks for sharing that link to a great mm-piece from Evan and Matt, Bob. The more we all see things like this the more we can help with donations of our own time, or much-needed money, while the govt fusses around with reform. Enjoy your time in Africa, may you have great light!

  14. Wow, a very powerful post, thank you Bob. Makes me realize how lucky I am to be covered under my wife’s insurance right now so I can run around and take pictures!

    I wonder about the software he (and you) use to do the MM slideshows. I have heard good things about soundslides…. I might want to take a crack at this someday.

    1. Hi Will: Yes, I’m using Soundslides Plus, primarily. It’s user friendly, although it doesn’t support the use of any movie clips at the moment. But otherwise, it’s a gem! Bob

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