Haiti fuel crisis severely limits access to vital medical care

MSF forced to cut back its activities at Tabarre hospital

Haiti 2020 © Guillaume Binet/MYOP

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 27, 2021–A fuel shortage in Haiti in recent days is threatening access and continuity of medical care in the country, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today. At its trauma hospital in Tabarre, Port au Prince, MSF has been forced to limit patients and is only treating life-threatening emergencies. Many other medical structures, both private and public, have also had their services disrupted.

In light of these urgent needs, MSF calls on various stakeholders to take rapid measures to facilitate the supply of fuel to health structures.

“Without fuel, we can’t run our hospital,” said Dr. Kanouté Dialla, Manager of the Tabarre hospital. “We are doing our best to maintain our activities by adapting them from day to day, but this situation is unsustainable. The hospital is the only center in the country specializing in the treatment of severe burns.”

Due to the failing electrical network, MSF facilities use generators to run various medical services in Haiti, including the center dedicated to treating severe burns. The current fuel shortage jeopardizes the center's ability to operate. The fuel shortage has also greatly impeded the ability of MSF staff to reach the hospital, which affects the standard of care at the trauma center.

“Today, only 10 percent of the staff is able to get to work,” said Dr. Dialla. “We organize shuttles to transport our staff and ensure the minimum rotations necessary for the hospital to operate. This considerably increases the workload of the medical staff present. Such a situation is untenable.”

The MSF Emergency Center in the Turgeau district of Port-au-Prince, which refers patients to Tabarre Hospital, is also affected by the crisis. It is becoming increasingly difficult to refer patients who need hospital treatment.

“More than half of the patients received at Tabarre hospital are transferred from the Turgeau emergency center,” said Désiré Kimanuka, head of the emergency center. “If services are reduced, these patients may not receive the treatment they need.”

The fuel shortage is an additional challenge to an already complicated security situation. Due to the volatility of this context and significant medical needs, MSF continues to adapt its projects in order to maintain its healthcare services for the Haitian people.

MSF has worked in Haiti for over 30 years. Today, activities focus on responding to life-saving medical emergencies for people affected by violence, burns, road accidents, sexual violence, and maternity services. Recently, MSF has developed activities for displaced people in several areas of Port-au-Prince, and intervened in several healthcare structures, in particular those of Jérémie and Les Cayes, following a powerful earthquake which struck the south of the island on August 14.