A specialist in emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is this year’s recipient of the Individual Governor’s Volunteer Award. Dr. Christopher Buresh is co-founder of Community Health Initiative, Haiti, a two-year-old effort to bring basic health care to one of the poorest nations in the world.
Buresh first traveled to Haiti in 2003 and has delivered primary care to rural areas of the country every three months for the past six years. “It just seemed stupid, I mean honestly stupid that kids in this area, a 90 minute plane flight from Miami, are starving to death and dying of diarrhea,” Buresh says. “I mean, it really is the kind of thing that makes it hard to sleep at night after you’ve met a few of these kids.”
Buresh was in the impoverished country just days before the devastating earthquake of 2010. When he returned to Haiti, Buresh says he found the needs of the people stretched beyond medical care to include clean water and passable roads. “After the earthquake, you just didn’t have that much time to sort of reflect on the bigger picture because you’re just so busy trying to take care of the most pressing need right in front of you,” Buresh said.
Buresh’s organization provides education programs on prenatal care, safe birthing practices, and the importance of clean water in addition to the medical treatments. He made his comments as a guest on the Iowa Public Radio program “Talk of Iowa.”