The healthcare system in Haiti is struggling to meet some of Haitians’ most basic medical needs

Political instability, conflicts and natural disasters have led Haiti to become the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

From an auspicious beginning as the first independent nation in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1804, Haiti has been plagued by political violence and natural disasters in the 21st Century.

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, resulting in the deaths of between 46,000 and316,000 people  and 1.5 million left homeless.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Haiti in 1991. Our work in the country focuses on providing responses to social violence, healthcare exclusion, endemic/epidemic diseases and natural disasters.

Hurricane Matthew update

MSF teams in Haiti are monitoring the impact of Hurricane Matthew and are ensuring that patient care in MSF facilities in Port-au-Prince is maintained.

MSF currently runs four medical facilities in the Port-au-Prince area: the burn unit in Drouillard Hospital, the Nap Kenbe Emergency Surgical Hospital, the Centre de Référence des Urgences en Obstétrique (CRUO), and the Martissant 25 Emergency Center. MSF teams are making preparations in case there is an influx of wounded patients from the hurricane.

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MSF's work in Haiti: 2015

The healthcare system in Haiti is struggling to meet some of Haitians’ most basic medical needs, such as treatment for trauma and maternal healthcare.

While a segment of the population can purchase healthcare at private clinics or out of country, healthcare is out of reach for a large proportion of Haiti’s population.

Medical facilities are understaffed and lack the funding to cover operating costs and purchase sufficient medical supplies. MSF continues to fill critical healthcare gaps – most of which pre-date the 2010 earthquake.

© Shiho Fukada/Panos

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Health services in Port-au-Prince

A large number of Haitians live in crowded, unsafe environments, where domestic accidents have become common. Violence, including sexual violence, is also a public health problem but accessible emergency services are scarce.

MSF runs a burns unit in Drouillard hospital, which has become the de facto national referral site for burns patients, nearly half of them (47 percent) under five years old. In 2015, MSF carried out:

  • Over 17,550 consultations
  • Over 3,550 surgical interventions,
  • 12,100 physiotherapy sessions
  • 1,600 mental health consultations

In Tabarre, MSF’s 122-bed Nap Kenbe hospital provides surgery and trauma-related care.

The team attended to over 13,000 emergency patients and over 6,400 surgical interventions were performed. Physiotherapy and social and mental health support for rehabilitation were also offered.

Around-the-clock services are available in MSF’s emergency and stabilisation centre in Martissant, and the team attended to 50,000 patients this year. Of these:

  • 30,000 were treated for accidental trauma
  • 5,000 for violent trauma

Sexual and reproductive care

Sexual and gender-based violence is an overlooked emergency in Haiti. In May, MSF opened the Pran Men’m clinic, a facility offering the emergency medical assistance required during the 72 hours following an assault, along with longer-term medical care and psychological support. More than a third of the 258 patients treated at the clinic were younger than 18 years old.

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Located in the Delmas 33 neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, MSF’s 148-bed Centre de Référence des Urgences en Obstétrique (CRUO) provides care to pregnant women experiencing serious and life-threatening complications such as pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, obstetric haemorrhage, obstructed labour or uterine rupture.

In 2015, the team:

  • Carried out more than 18,300 consultations
  • Assisted over 6,000 births
  • Admitted 2,500 babies to the neonatal ward

Ongoing cholera crisis

The cholera outbreak that began after the 2010 earthquake remains a public health threat.

In 2015, more than 2,300 patients were admitted to the 55-bed Diquini cholera treatment centre (CTC) in Delmas, which MSF runs in partnership with the health ministry, and some 750 patients were treated at the Delmas Figaro CTC.

find out more in our international activity report

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