Acupuncture Today – March, 2010, Vol. 11, Issue 03 >> Health & Wellness

Acupuncturists Team Up To Provide Relief in Haiti

By Editorial Staff

On Jan. 12, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the impoverished country of Haiti. As of a week after the quake, death estimates ranged as high as 200,000.

Furthermore, also a week after the quake, donations have exceeded $220 million. Of that, more than $110 million has been raised by the Red Cross one week following the disaster. In order to do its part to address the aftermath of the horrific devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti, Pathways to Wellness has partnered with Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) to coordinate efforts to make acupuncture available for survivors, rescue workers and peace-keepers.

The two agencies plan to mobilize teams of volunteer acupuncturists to go to Haiti to provide assistance. Although the focus of the acupuncture provided will not be on first aid, the emphasis of treatment will be on addressing the mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical concerns of those receiving treatment. To most effectively do this, teams will begin to be dispatched a few weeks after the disaster, after infrastructure concerns such as restoring water, food, and shelter are addressed. Both agencies stress that the top priority to implement this relief effort is to do fund-raising; they estimate that $20,000 is needed. Donations may be made online by visiting the AWB donation page.

In addition to donations, volunteers are being sought. Licensed acupuncturists and NADA-trained acupuncture detoxification specialists are welcome to apply. Priority will be given to AWB members who have been to an AWB training session since they are already familiar with many of the considerations, procedures and protocols for providing disaster relief.

Volunteers will need to pay for their own round-trip airfare and food. They will also need to have their own medical insurance. Other costs will be covered, including housing, local transportation, local communication, acupuncture supplies, administrative support in the U.S. as well as in Haiti, and coordination amongst agencies. If you would like to volunteer, please do not call as they are inundated with messages. Instead, please send e-mail to and include the following preliminary information:

  • Name, address, e-mail address (important!) and phone number
  • Date of birth
  • State of licensure and license number, or ADS certificate number
  • Paragraph description of previous community/field acupuncture training and experience, if any
  • If you have an active passport and when it expires
  • If you have medical insurance and what kind
  • When you are available to go
  • Any personal health issues
  • If you have attended an AWB training, please include date and location

Over the past several years, AWB has responded to a number of natural disaster situations, including following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, in California following the wildfires, and in Iowa following the floods in 2008. AWB has also implemented a program to provide military veterans with acupuncture treatments to aid with recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder.

Following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Pathways organized a series of free clinics in Boston for individuals who had been affected by the destruction in New York and the disasters in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. An article describing the impact of these free clinics was published in the American Journal of Public Health.1 Pathways has also been involved with the Veterans' Community Acupuncture Project, treatment for Cambodian refugees at a community health center and hospital-based programs addressing the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Kristen Porter, Pathways' Director of Integrative Medicine, describes her agency's response to the current situation in Haiti: "Pathways' 20-year history is rooted in caring for the underserved, the ailing, and the dying so when Diana Fried (AWB) approached me about offering our staff and support, I was completely in agreement. We hope this will be the beginning of a long partnership to ensure that acupuncture care is provided to those who have the greatest need, both nationally and internationally."

AWB Executive Director Diana Fried adds, "AWB and Pathways are hearing that everyone in the acupuncture community sends deepest wishes for healing to those in Haiti who are suffering from this tragedy, as well as to their loved ones everywhere. With this relief effort, we hope to be able to help in a profound way with the transformative medicine of acupuncture."


  1. Sommers E, Porter K, DeGurski S. Providers of complementary and alternative health services in Boston respond to September 11. Am J Public Health October 2002;92(10):1597-8.


To report inappropriate ads, click here.