January 14, 2010

Earthquake and Relief Efforts in Haiti

The thoughts and prayers of all of us have been with the people suffering from the horrendous effects of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti—those in the country and those with friends and family there. Haiti is part of the NIH family. We have 27 research projects in Haiti, primarily on HIV/AIDS and related conditions, supported by a number of NIH Institutes and Centers, including NIAID, NICHD, NIDCR, NIAAA, NIMH, FIC, and NCI. I know many of you have had longstanding collaborations with scientists in Haiti, and many others have family and friends there. I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to all who have lost family members, friends, or colleagues.

As Secretary Sebelius said in her message yesterday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services is deploying resources as part of the U.S. Government’s integrated response to the earthquake. I want to let you all know that some of your NIH colleagues will be assisting directly with the relief efforts. Some Commissioned Corps officers will be activated to deploy to Haiti, probably to serve on the US Navy’s hospital ship, USNS Comfort. I know many of you have volunteered to join the relief effort, which reflects the spirit and generosity of the NIH staff. I am proud that the NIH can provide this support to medical care for people in Haiti, and we will offer other services as we identify NIH capabilities that can be helpful.

As listed on the HHS website, those trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747. Donations can be made to support Red Cross relief efforts by texting "HAITI" to 90999. (A donation of $10 will automatically be charged to your cell phone bill.) You may also contribute to the Red Cross online at http://american.redcross.org/supporthaiti.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to all who are contributing to the relief efforts through donations and volunteer activities, to help Haiti respond to this terrible tragedy.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health