I am concerned that American aid workers understand the precarious conditions in Haiti and take the proper precautions
Gilbert, AZ (Vocus) January 14, 2010
In anticipation of relief work in devastated Haiti, Good Neighbor Insurance is trying to contact members of the 10 medical and mission groups that they insure in Haiti to see what they will need from the surge of help that will come from faith based groups, relief organizations, and student groups. Good Neighbor Insurance will be able to see that they have the proper overseas health insurance for such a massive effort. Communication has been difficult, but Good Neighbor wants aid workers to be assured of their full cooperation in helping them get the right kind of health insurance.
Haitians and relief organizations are scrambling after a magnitude 7 earthquake devastated a large region around Port-au-Prince on Tuesday afternoon. Although the building standards in Haiti are low, even buildings built to a higher code didn’t make it. This includes hospitals, schools and several government buildings which apparently includes the Haitian Presidential Palace and a main prison.
World governments are mobilizing assistance to Haiti. The UN’s world Food Programme is flying in two planes with emergency food aid. But assistance will be difficult to get into the devastated area. Jeff Gulleson of Good Neighbor Insurance has had a good deal of experience in third world countries. 'I have found that it is ordinary people working together who do the most good in the face of disaster,' he said.
Untold thousands of Haitians are feared dead. Even foreigners are among the missing. The head of the UN mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, is reported missing. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is thought to be dead. What the final count will be is really unimaginable at this time.
The damage is so massive assessments have yet to be made. 'We are just trying to save as many people from the rubble as we can,' Wendy from CrossWorld, which works with a national association of Haitian churches, explained in a phone call with Good Neighbor Insurance staff. 'The earthquake has caused severe shortages of food and water. Even the healthy could easily become sick from lack of sanitation, good food and clean water.'
Already a heart-wrenchingly poor country, Haiti will need foreign aid workers again soon. With all of the death, hands to help will be needed as soon as they can be accommodated. There is no knowing at this time how much infrastructure will be rebuilt before foreign aid workers begin pouring into Haiti. “I am concerned that American aid workers understand the precarious conditions in Haiti and take the proper precautions,” Jeff said. "We work with almost 100 organizations that send teams to just such places as devastated as Haiti and are familiar with what they will need to stay healthy and effective."
'Sending foreign workers into Haiti isn’t really possible because of the chaos and damaged infrastructure,' Wendy says. 'At this time money would be the biggest help.'
Jeff counters, 'But it won’t be long until relief organizations will be able to go in and help. The task facing them will be daunting and dangerous.'
Besides practical considerations like bringing sturdy close toed shoes and work gloves, aid workers will need to plan for their own health and safety at a time when they may feel almost in too much of a hurry.
Sickness will be rife and accidents from tottering buildings and dangerous roads will certainly affect aid workers.
Travel insurance is usually the last thing on the list and most likely to be forgotten. Good Neighbor Insurance staff asks that all workers take the necessary precautions before going to Haiti. Jeff urges, “Teams and individuals can buy overseas travel insurance for as little as $1 a day. They can call us and we can walk them through an application, or they can get it from our website or even call in from the airport right before they leave.”
About Good Neighbor Insurance:
Jeff Gulleson established Good Neighbor Insurance in 1997, to provide global health and life insurance services after living for 30 years in Indonesia.
GNI helps clients find good, cost-effective international health, travel, and life insurance while providing caring service based on integrity. The company serves students traveling overseas, short-term teams, aid organizations, foreign and domestic corporations, universities, and volunteers both from the U.S. and abroad.
GNI’s website at http://www.gninsurance.com has more information as well as a guide to medical advice for overseas travelers, written by Jon Askew, MD.
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