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Haiti

MSF is responding to urgent medical needs following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on August 14th 2021

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.

Saturday, August 14 2021, at 8:30 am local time, the earth trembled in the southern peninsula of Haiti. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage to buildings,  houses and main access roads in the three provinces of Grand'Anse,  Nippes and Sud. Tremors were felt in other areas of Haiti, too. The Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) says 137,000 families have been affected in the Grand'Anse, Nippes and Sud departments. According to UN OCHA, about 650,000 people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The provisional death toll is now nearly 2,200, according to Haiti’s Office for Civil Protection, and more than 12,000 people have been injured.

Following the earthquake, the area experienced aftershocks and landslides, causing additional damage. From Monday evening to Tuesday morning, Topical Storm Grace passed by the southern peninsula causing extremely heavy rains, up to 10 inches/25 centimeters, and flooding. The storm has complicated rescue efforts by making more areas inaccessible and endangering tents and temporary structures being used for urgent medical care, aid and shelter.

MSF currently has over 100 international staff members and over 1260 Haitian staff members working in Haiti on our regular programmes and emergency response.

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake also hit the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, resulting in the deaths of between 46,000 and 316,000 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.

In addition to its regular emergency response activities in Haiti, where quality healthcare is unaffordable for the majority, MSF has developed a range of free, specialised medical care at three hospitals in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The specialised care MSF provides at the hospitals it manages in Port-au-Prince benefits people who would otherwise be unable to access this level of service.

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MSF's work in Haiti: 2020

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a range of specialist and emergency medical services that many people would not be able to afford or access elsewhere. 

People in Haiti continue to face multiple barriers to healthcare amid an ongoing political and economic crisis. Violence is rife, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where gangs fight for territory and influence. In 2020, there were repeated strikes and staffing shortages in public health facilities due to attacks on health workers, non-payment of wages and the risks of COVID-19.

Our emergency centre in the impoverished Martissant neighbourhood treats and stabilises patients with urgent needs, including severe asthma attacks, childhood medical emergencies, and injuries from violence and accidental trauma. In our trauma hospital in Tabarre, we offer emergency care, surgery, physiotherapy and psychosocial care for trauma patients with life-threatening injuries, such as open bone fractures or bullet wounds to the chest or abdomen. We also supported the adult and paediatric emergency rooms at the Haiti State University Hospital by donating medical supplies, rehabilitating facilities and training staff.

In May, we repurposed our specialist burns hospital in the capital to treat patients with COVID-19, until August, when we returned to treating patients with complex burn injuries. Drouillard hospital is the only facility of its kind in Haiti, and receives many referrals from areas where precarious living conditions increase the risk of domestic accidents, such as burns from stoves. In August, we also supported a local maternity centre to reopen safely by screening patients for COVID-19, and providing training and personal protective equipment.

We continue to run our clinic for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the capital’s Delmas 33 neighbourhood, and in February opened a second one in Gonaïves, northern Haiti. In both, we train public hospital staff and work with local organisations to raise awareness of sexual violence and adolescent sexual health issues. To help victims reach medical services, we set up a confidential telephone hotline. 

In the rural southwest, we support sexual and reproductive health services in health centres in Port-à-Piment and the surrounding area. We are gradually increasing our support for comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care in Port Salut. 

MSF's work in Haiti: 2019

In 2018, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide a range of specialist medical services in Haiti, from treatment for victims of sexual violence to advanced surgery and trauma care. 

Our teams in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and in the southwest are filling critical gaps in health services and helping to boost the capacity of the local health system. 

 

Trauma care 

Nap Kenbé hospital, located in the Port-au- Prince neighbourhood of Tabarre, provides specialist surgical care for victims of trauma. In 2018, our team admitted 1,370 patients and performed 3,240 major surgical procedures. As planned, the number of admissions was stabilised in 2018 in order to prepare for our withdrawal by June 2019. In December, we started discussions with the Ministry of Health regarding the handover of our activities to the Haitian authorities. 

Mother and child care 

In 2011, we started running the Centre de Référence des Urgences Obstétricales, a 176-bed hospital in Port-au-Prince for women with obstetric complications and newborns requiring specialist treatment. It closed in July, after offering care to a total of approximately 120,000 women and assisting Dr Jerry Dely, left, and the MSF team operate on a patient at Drouillard hopsital, Haiti, March 2018. © Scott Streble 37,000 births. We gradually decreased admissions leading up to our departure, while urging the Ministry of Health to fulfil its responsibilities towards women with pregnancy complications. 

© Shiho Fukada/Panos

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Burns treatment 

MSF’s 40-bed Drouillard hospital, near the Cité Soleil slum, is the only facility in Port-au-Prince where specialised care is available for patients with severe burns, a widespread problem linked to poor housing conditions. More than a quarter of our patients are children under five, and 90 per cent come straight to us without going to a non-specialist facility first. Services include surgery, wound dressing, physiotherapy and mental health support. In 2018, we completed the construction of a new hospital, with better facilities that will improve infection control, a major issue in burns treatment. We also started running training sessions on burns treatment for medical personnel in other Haitian health facilities. 

 

 

Victims of sexual and gender-based violence 

Sexual violence is an under-reported medical emergency and care for victims in Haiti remains inadequate. In Pran Men’m clinic, in Port-au-Prince’s Delmas 33 neighbourhood, we offer emergency care to victims of sexual and gender-based violence. 

Emergency care in Martissant slum 

In Martissant (Port-au-Prince), the MSF emergency and stabilisation centre provided first-line emergency care to 27,800 sick and injured people in 2018. Some were admitted for observation for a few days, but the majority were referred to more specialist facilities after stabilisation. 

 

 

 

Primary healthcare in Sud department 

In the southwest, we support the Ministry of Health in the delivery of primary healthcare, focusing on mother and child healthcare and water-borne diseases. We have worked in Port-à-Piment since October 2016, and in 2018 rehabilitated and started supporting two more health centres, in Côteaux and Chardonnières. In Port-à-Piment alone, our teams conducted more than 25,500 outpatient consultations, treated 2,180 emergency patients and assisted 624 births during the year, as well as running community health promotion and water and sanitation activities in the surrounding areas in order to prevent cholera outbreaks in this zone.

find out more in our international activity report >


 

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