Hillary Clinton Wanted Vaccines ‘A Priority One’ Following Haiti Earthquake That Killed 160,000, Displaced 1.5 Million

The 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti killed 160,000 people and left 1.5 million people displaced from their homes. However, following the deadly quake, a Wikileaks email dump reveals that Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were more concerned about ensuring that all children under 15 were getting vaccinated at camp than the 1.5 million people displaced without proper food, water or housing.

Wikileaks recently released a new batch of Hillary Clinton emails in which Chelsea Clinton’s alias Diane Reynolds was featured in a number of the emails. In one email sent by Chelsea to her mother following the horrific Haiti earthquake, Chelsea expressed her outrage over reports of a Measles outbreak in the refugee camp setting. Chelsea forwarded the information to her mother, who was then Secretary of State, asking “Did you see this?”

Hillary responded by forwarding the information provided by Chelsea Clinton to her Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. Hillary pressed for more information asking, “Do you know who should be addressing this?” In response to the email, Rajiv Shah informed Clinton that they were already investigating the issue, but noted that though some cases had been reported as measles, they were actually chicken pox.

“I agree that measles or cholera or another infectious disease would be a huge set back. We have a joint USAID/CDC team down there working with WHO (PAHO in Haiti) to do surveillance. They have a system set up with 30+ sentinel sites and found a case that was originally reported as measles. We followed up on that case report and were told it was chicken pox – not measles.”

Despite noting that USAID/CDC teams already working with WHO on surveillance of the infectious disease situation, Rajiv Shah notes that vaccination is a “priority one” following the earthquake and that he would personally double check the size and scale of the vaccination campaign.

“Regardless, immunization campaigns should start this coming week. We will stay on top of this issue but it is a priority one and we pulled one of our best people on this from India (Ron Waldman) and sent them to Haiti to make sure there is leadership on the ground. I will double check the size/scale of the vaccination campaign.”

Rajiv then went on to tell Chelsea Clinton to “feel free” to send suggestions to him “anytime” as she was “right about the health risks.” Though the USAID Administrator had seemed to indicate that some of the measles cases were overblown and actually chicken pox, that didn’t stop the vaccination campaign in the wake of the earthquake. In fact, Rajiv called it the “priority one” following the quake despite having 1.5 million people displaced from homes.

As Time reported, following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 160,000 people were dead and another 1.5 million were displaced. However, five full years after the earthquake, the damage is still widespread and noted that most people were still living in worse conditions than before the earthquake.

“When you walk around the country’s capital Port-au-Prince, you still see half-destroyed buildings around town. The wounds are still here, and everyone says that they’re living in worse conditions than before.”

In fact, those on the ground in Haiti in 2015 noted that up until 2013 (three full years after the quake), people were still living in refugee camps. When the camps closed, people were simply displaced once again in shacks in city suburbs.

“Two years ago, there were still refugee camps in Port-au-Prince’s center. Now, they are gone, but the people have been merely displaced. They now live in the city’s suburbs – in these prefabricated shacks – [with] a parallel economy.”

With so many people suffering severe economic hardship with lack of proper housing, food or clean water, it may bring into question the State Department’s concern over vaccinations as “priority one” in refugee camps that desperately needed financial help to ensure proper sanitation, food and clean water.

As with most infectious diseases, sanitation plays a key role in decreases in infectious disease outbreaks. In fact, Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD’s research on vaccines called Vaccines:Hygiene, Sanitation, Immunization,and Pestilential Diseases. the doctor noted that sanitation plays a key role in decreasing the number of cases and fatality rate of infectious diseases with vaccines simply offering a final blow to eradicate the disease fully.

“MMR has been effective in reducing the incidence of these diseases and controlling outbreaks, although routine public health measures e.g., better hygiene and sanitation cannot be ignored.”

The CDC points out the importance of proper sanitation and personal hygiene to decrease the spread of infectious diseases and attributes sanitation programs to the decline of diseases in the 1930s to 1950s.

“From the 1930s through the 1950s, state and local health departments made substantial progress in disease prevention activities, including sewage disposal, water treatment, food safety, organized solid waste disposal, and public education about hygienic practices.”

It is only after proper sanitation and personal hygiene measures have been achieved, decreasing infectious diseases transmission, that vaccination programs were put into place. Therefore, it seems that Clinton and the State Department may have been better served placing the “priority one” focus on sanitizing and ensuring those living in refugee camps had access to clean water and personal hygiene products than the vaccination program.

Knowing that the living conditions in Haiti were suffering from the earthquake, should the USAID and Clinton placed the “priority one” importance on providing sanitary living conditions instead of pushing vaccines on the under 15 crowd? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Image by Alex Brandon/AP Photo]