Haiti update: nature of injuries changing

01 Feb 10

MSF's emergency wards in Haiti are still treating large numbers of patients but the nature of their injuries is gradually changing. Fewer people are appearing with wounds directly caused by the earthquake, but now the indirect consequences of the quake are beginning to manifest themselves, with more children suffering from diarrhea and more people coming forward with physical symptoms of mental trauma.

© William Daniels

© William Daniels
Jerry Sidney, 7 years old, had a femur fracture and was hospitalised at Isaie Jeanty hospital, where MSF provides surgery and post-operative care.   Jan 28th 2010.  

There have also been several recorded cases of tetanus appearing - a very dangerous illness. The operating theatres are still very busy however, with the two teams in Leogane dealing with 30 operations a day, as is the new hospital in Carrefour. The inflatable hospital MSF which flew in to provide desperately needed medical facilities, is still working primarily on cases of compound fractures and the operating theatres set up in Choscal are treating, among other things, some bullet wounds and car accidents.

The pressing need for post-operative care and the space to provide it has driven a number of developments. Facilities providing 100 beds are now ready in Delmas 30, which will start receiving patients this week. New patients will also be received in Bicentaire, where 60 beds are ready under canvas and in the Lycee site in Port-au-Prince, which opens for work today. There is also some concern that patients who were treated in facilities not run by MSF may not be coming forward to get the longer term care that they need. MSF is starting to search out these cases in the city.

Image Caption

©  William Daniels
Patients at Hospital Isaie Jeanty, in Chancerelle. MSF started working in Isaie Jeanty one week after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. Jan 28th 2010.   

There are now a few cases of children needing therapeutic feeding in MSF's hospitals, although it is not yet clear if these are the result of more widespread nutritional problems. The impact of the disaster on many people's mental health is also leading MSF to extend its work in that direction. In Leogane, around 20% of the consultations are for mental health issues. MSF now has 18 psychologists and psychiatrists on the ground. The mobile clinics that are being run in Port-au-Prince see up to 140 people a day and now have a mental health specialist with them, as do the outreach posts in the towns of Dufour and Darbon.

The work with water and sanitation is also scaling up. In a number of places where MSF has medical facilities, the local community is getting help with these vital services. In the Grace International camp, MSF is transporting water in by truck and storing it in flexible water containers supplying 15,000 people. In Jacmel town MSF is providing latrines, showers and water supplies, as well as near the inflatable hospital and in Leogane town. The team there is looking towards the next step of providing water and sanitation support to smaller encampments along the road outside the town.