MPH in Health Policy student, Andy Quiñones-Rivera compiled a list of actions our community can take to support the people of Puerto Rico. Please join them, and the department, in contributing in whichever ways you can.
The best way to help is to donate money to people providing direct services on the ground. The Puerto Rican government is currently asking individuals to avoid sending supplies to the ports due to logistical challenges. These are two important organizations to donate to:
- Unidos Por Puerto Rico- http://unidosporpuertorico.com/en/
- ConPRometidos- http://www.conprmetidos.org
- There is a public health crisis rapidly developing on the island. Andy is working closely with a group of civilian physicians that are delivering aid to Puerto Rican physicians, hospitals, public health officials and clinics. Due to their robust connections to physicians on the ground and access to airplanes, they are currently one of the only groups successfully delivering supplies directly to those that need it. This is where you can donate to them:
If you are a physician, pharmacist, health professional, student, or hospital administrator looking to help, please contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org; there is much you can do.
Stay informed. Call your local, state, and federal representatives.
The decisions that policymakers make about Puerto Rico in the next few weeks will determine the fate of Puerto Rico for years to come. Things to pay attention to:
- Congress will be deciding on a federal funding package to be appropriated for Puerto Rico’s recovery. Many people worry that Puerto Rico will not get the same support that a state like Texas or Florida would had they suffered a disaster of this magnitude. Puerto Rico will require billions of dollars in aid. Seeing the disparity between the emergency responses to Harvey/Irma vs. Maria has magnified the fear that federal funding will be too little, too late. Over the last weeks, Hawaii Congressperson Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) led the House in passing a relief package; that package is now headed to the Senate. Please call your Senators to lobby that they pass the relief package as quickly as possible.
- The fate of the Jones Act is also in the hands of Congress. In emergency situations the federal government waives the Jones Act in order to increase speed, flexibility and shipping capacity to transport products to target areas. After intense pressure, the administration finally gave Puerto Rico a Jones Act waiver, but that waiver expired after just 10 days (on Oct. 9). Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced legislation to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. This legislation will allow critical, ongoing support to reach Puerto Rico, but needs public support in order to make it through the Senate.
- As the airport regains capacity, many Puerto Ricans will evacuate to stay with their families. Many will flee to Massachusetts. They will need our local representatives to help with housing, employment, K-12 enrollment, health issues, and more. The families providing them with sanctuary will also need our help.
To find contact information for US federal representatives, please click here (Senators) and here (Representatives). To find contact information for state representatives, please click here (State Senators), here (State Representatives), and here (Governors).
The situation on the ground is shifting everyday, the public health crisis is evolving, and the needs of Puerto Rican people will change. Helping Puerto Rico will be a long-term effort.