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MSF in Haiti, 2004
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When civil unrest broke out in Haiti in early 2004, MSF teams who were already working there began providing emergency medical care. In February, MSF started running emergency rooms at the Saint- FranÃ§ois de Sales Hospital in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and at Saint Nicolas Hospital in Saint Marc, providing free medical care to those wounded in the fighting or during demonstrations.
Heavy rains in May 2004 resulted in severe flooding in villages located near the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The water devastated an already poor region destroying houses and crops and killing hundreds. MSF organized helicopter emergency evacuations from the region to Port-au-Prince, where victims received medical treatment in Saint FranÃ§ois de Sales Hospital. In the flooded region, MSF focused its medical activities on the southern coastal area between the town of Jacmel and the border with the Dominican Republic. MSF treated the most urgent cases at a health center in the village of Ford Verrettes and donated a basic emergency kit for 1,000 people. In the town of Mapou, the team set up a base in a school and conducted more than 100 medical consultations a day in the period immediately after the flooding. For the next two months, the organization operated a dispensary there, providing free medicines. In addition, MSF offered psychological counseling to those traumatized by the disaster and started running mobile clinics in Bodarie, Grand Gosier and Thiotte.
Though these recent crises briefly focused world attention on Haiti, the health situation in this tiny country might well be considered its own emergency. Women in Haiti have a significant chance of becoming ill or dying while pregnant or when giving birth. Therefore, most of MSF's ongoing activities have focused on ensuring proper care for pregnant women and improving delivery conditions in the district of Artibonite. Since 1994, MSF has provided nurses and doctors as well as supplies to Saint Nicolas Hospital in Saint Marc, part of a Communal Health Unit comprised of an estimated 240,000 people. Because the unit now has qualified medical staff and the necessary equipment, MSF handed over the project's activities to local health authorities in August 2004.
In another part of Artibonite, MSF staff members continue to work in the communes of Petite Rivière, Jean-Denis and Segur, providing care to a population of about 90,000 people. Teams carry out medical consultations at three health facilities and work with local health authorities to improve maternal health. MSF built a maternity care facility in Petite Rivière. Haiti is a country that experiences frequent natural disasters including hurricanes, tropical storms and floods. MSF has created a special quick-response evaluation team composed of a Haitian doctor and logistician, based in the capital, to assess whether or not MSF can play a role when emergencies or disasters strike the country. This team oï¬€ ers MSF a way to respond extremely quickly to disasters without disrupting the organization's ongoing work in the country.
MSF has worked in Haiti since 1991.