I have just spent the last hour or so trying to find some kind of information on the state of Zika virus infection in Haiti. The hour has also been a kind of flashback to 2010, when the earthquake hit and I frantically tried to find Haitian online news sources. That was when I learned that disasters and disease outbreaks are most common in poor countries only tenuously connected to the internet.
If anything, the problem in Haiti is worse now. The local sources—newspapers, radio and TV stations, press agencies—are mostly there, but they have nothing to say about Zika (or cholera, for that matter). The Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) has a ghastly travesty of a website; if anything, it was better in the first onslaught of cholera in late 2010 than it is now, when it still remains weeks behind the present state of cholera. Maybe there are some Haitian bloggers covering public health, but I haven't found them in the past six years.
Even more disturbing, the Pan American Health Organization, WHO's branch plant in this hemisphere, has said less about Haiti's Zika than it has about Haiti's cholera—which was precious little. PAHO's May 19 update says nothing about Haiti except that "at least one" case of Guillain-Barré syndrome has been confirmed there. Well, fine, but out of how many Zika cases?
Colombia, a country just emerging from decades of a vicious civil war, still manages to produce a weekly health report that shames every other health department in the hemisphere. Haiti, under UN peacekeeping management for over a decade, can't tell the world a damn thing we can rely on about the health of its ten million men, women (many of them pregnant) and children.
Sherlock Holmes took note when the dog didn't bark in the night. If our international health agencies haven't been barking their heads off about Zika in Haiti, we should be asking them why they're not.