© Scott Streble
02 Jun 21 02 Jun 21

Haiti: MSF relaunches treatment for severe burns

Port-au- Prince, Haiti, June 1, 2021—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has fully resumed its program to treat patients with severe burns in Port-au-Prince, following disruptions earlier this year.

Finding space for new burn patients

On February 23, MSF had to urgently relocate patients and staff from its burns hospital in the city's Drouillard neighborhood due to armed clashes in the immediate vicinity.

Patients were transferred to MSF's trauma hospital in the city's Tabarre neighborhood, but it has been a challenge to make space for new burns patients.

Violent clashes between gang members took place on February 23 around a MSF burn care hospital in the neighborhood of Drouillard, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, forcing the staff to transfer 21 hospital patients to MSF's trauma hospital in Tabarre.

"People with severe burns are very fragile and prone to infections which can be fatal," said Dr. Anicet Umba, medical advisor at MSF's Tabarre hospital.

"For this reason, we had to completely separate the paths that the trauma patients and the severe burns patients follow."

Haiti, March 2020. Bebetho survived a cocktail molotov attack on a public bus. 40% of his body was severely burned. He spent one month in Drouillard. To limit his scars, he will have to wear a 3D printed compression mask on his face 23 hours a day.

MSF's burn care program

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After major renovations to accommodate patients, MSF's burn care program is now fully open at the Tabarre hospital, with the same medical services that MSF previously provided in Drouillard. 

The total capacity of the Tabarre hospital is now 20 beds for burns and 50 beds for trauma patients.

The hospital also provides outpatient care for burns and trauma patients once they have been treated and discharged.

Patients must arrive as soon as possible following a burn to limit the risk of infection, MSF advises.

Beyond 48 hours is considered too late.

MSF's Drouillard burns hospital has long been the only specialized center for the treatment of burns in Haiti.

Jackson Joseph, a physiotherapist, helps a patient regain the use of a limb through a joint exercise at MSF's Drouillard Hospital in Haiti.

MSF continues to assess the possibility of continuing to provide treatment for severe burns in Drouillard, depending on the evolution of the security situation.

MSF maintains an emergency service in its Drouillard facility to stabilize patients with burns or traumatic injuries.

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