The situation in Port-au-Price five days after the earthquake remains dire. Doctors Without Borders/MSF teams are working to treat as many patients as possible. However, the needs remain huge and time is running out. There is still little access to health care in the city.
MSF’s rehabilitation center in the Pacot neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, staff are working to meet the needs of large numbers of people who have gathered there looking for help. Some 150 people are “hospitalized” on the ground under tents. Teams are treating trauma cases, including multiple head fractures and amputations.
All three of MSF’s existing medical structures were damaged, staff continue to treat people outside under tents. Teams have also begun performing surgeries at facilities in the Choscal and Petionville areas. MSF has identified a space for an inflatable hospital where staff will perform surgeries, but an MSF cargo plane carrying the components was blocked from landing in Port-au-Price on January 16, further delaying the provision of more lifesaving treatment.
As provision of aid has been slow to come, MSF teams say that many people have begun to flee Port-au-Prince. Prior to the earthquake, MSF assisted large numbers of people in need of emergency obstetric care and HIV/AIDS treatment. Now staff are concerned about the fate of women in need of caesarean section and HIV-positive patients who have no access to medicine.
Most of the buildings in downtown Port-au-Prince were destroyed along with infrastructure. Although movements on the roads have improved, there is a shortage of fuel and some roads remain blocked. Delivering medical supplies via air transport remains problematic as the Port-au-Prince airport only has one functioning runway and in some cases of delivery of lifesaving medical supplies has not been a priority.
Haiti: MSF Working to Meet Medical Needs
January 17, 2010
MSF teams are working to provide surgery and basic care to as many patients as possible, but needs continue to outstrip available resources.