News Focus

Relief Among The Rubble

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Science  05 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5966, pp. 634-637
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5966.634

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When the earthquake struck on 12 January, the hotel in which a group of public health experts had been meeting in Léogâne, Haiti, to review a collaborative program to fight neglected tropical diseases collapsed. The attendees did what they could to help the injured around them in the days following; all but one person attending the meeting got out alive. Although the program, which stretched back more than 20 years, was on the verge of a major push within Haiti to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF)—a debilitating, mosquito-borne parasitic disease (see sidebar), for now and for the months ahead, the program's efforts will be focused on emergency relief for Léogâne. But at the same time, the partners are beginning to get a fix on what was lost—their program was considered one of the few success stories in Haiti—and how they can pick up the pieces and move beyond their LF work to help rebuild the public health system in this shattered country.