Documentary Film Project

Ethics and Haiti Earthquake

On January 12, 2010 a massive earthquake hit Haiti, and medical personnel from all over the world responded to this disaster. In the wake of the quake these medical providers were forced to make difficult ethical decisions about whom to treat and how to make the best use of limited resources. Providers in this situation were forced to ask: How should these decisions be made? Who should make them? And how should medical aid workers deal with a limited supply of resources?More than a year after the earthquake Haiti is still suffering. Displaced people are living in tent cities. Those who suffered massive injuries during the earthquake are not receiving proper follow-up medical care. And a lack of sanitation and clean water has caused an extensive cholera outbreak. Haiti is still in the process of recovering and rebuilding. Ethical issues also arise in these long-term efforts. Who is responsible for continuing to provide for Haiti? Who should and should not be involved? And what is the best way to rebuild?

The story of the Haiti earthquake and what has followed can serve as an extremely useful educational tool, both in public forums and in the classroom. These short films, along with a discussion guide, will assist you in examining and discussing the ethics of disaster relief, as well as the ethical issues that arise in assisting resource-poor countries.

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Dr. Enrique Ginzburg, working with the Miami-based organization Project Medishare, was one of the first American doctors to respond to the earthquake. More than a year later, he is now working to create a sustainable hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Jean Baptiste Jean Nickson is a Haitian medical student. After his school collapsed during the earthquake, he is struggling to help rebuild a devastated health system.

This short film illuminates some of potential problems that arise from a lack of resources and personnel in Haiti.

Cite Lumiere, part of the slum Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, continues to struggle with ongoing medical issues, despite the massive medical response in the wake of the earthquake.

Marie Mitha Saimé, a young woman whose legs were amputated as a result of the earthquake, has benefited from international help but struggles to adapt to a new life.

These films were produced with support from the Wake Forest University Center for Bioethics, Health & Society in conjunction with the Wake Forest University Documentary Film Program.  To obtain a DVD of the films provided, please send an email to