On the afternoon of January 12 2010, CBC Radio news reported the quake that had just hit Port-au-Prince. I hurried to my computer and began searching for local news outlets. No luck; I linked instead to The New York Times and posted this: Haiti: A dangerous gap. After quoting a couple of paragraphs, I wrote:
I link to this report not because I'm interested in earthquakes, but because I can't find a single local Haitian online news source that reports this event. That tells me Haiti's sorrows include a very grave gap in its communications with the rest of the world.
For our own self-interest, the industrial world should make sure that Haiti and other impoverished countries can let us know what's going on, even in an earthquake or a pandemic.
My interest then was in H5N1 and the then-pandemic H1N1, but Haiti taught me that public health is not so tidily compartmentalized. And Haiti's lack of effective online communication systems taught me a lot as well.