Haiti: MSF Increases Medical Activities in Storm-Ravaged Areas

Haiti 2008 © Francois Servranckx/MSF

An MSF doctor examines a child at Rabouteau Health Center in Gonaives.

While flood waters in Gonaives have mostly receded, some parts of the devastated town remain inaccessible and many people have not had access to healthcare, clean water, and food for 15 days. A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team continues to support the Rabouteau Health Center in Gonaives, where more than 1,000 consultations have been carried out to date. The five-person team has treated 250 wounded people and carried out 20 minor and major surgical procedures there. More and more people are now presenting with pathologies consistent with flooded conditions, including diarrhea, respiratory infections, and skin diseases.

Haiti 2008 © Francois Servranckx/MSF

People walk through flooded streets in Gonaives.

To improve access to health care in Gonaives, MSF began operating mobile clinics on September 14 in shelters where families have sought refuge. However, it appears that 20 other health centers are still inaccessible due to impassable roads.

Yesterday, a team of three nurses and one doctor went to Gonaives University, where 102 families with children have stayed for 14 days without access to clean water and healthcare. They examined 36 people in two hours, most of them suffering from fever, diarrhea, or respiratory infections. There is risk of disease propagating rapidly within the community, in an environment where people are gathered in close proximity to one another.

The MSF team in Gonaives now consists of 20 people, among them eight medical staff and nine logisticians. Additional staff members are arriving and 23 tons of cargo has just arrived from Brussels, including medical kits, water and sanitation materials, and medicines.

Plans are underway to strengthen mobile clinics teams to ensure the most affected are reached, and MSF is preparing to open a second-level health center that can offer more advanced surgery.

Increased Water and Sanitation Activities

Haiti 2008 © Francois Servranckx/MSF

People gather clean water at Raboteau Health Center, one of five MSF water points in Gonaives.

Over the last several days, MSF has installed five water distribution points in Gonaives. On September 14, approximately 60,000 liters of water were supplied. Yesterday, the team opened four additional sites and was able to supply more than 100,000 liters of clean water. With two more distribution sites opening today, a total of 150,000 liters of water will be provided daily. Additional water and sanitation equipment is en route to Gonaives, which will help increase the total daily supply of water.

Further Assessments to Determine Overall Needs

In northern Haiti, which remains difficult to access because of flood damage, MSF teams have managed to carry out assessments and deliver drugs to dispensaries and health centers in Anse Rouge, Bombardopolis, Mole Saint Nicolas, Jean Rabel, and Tortue Island. Additional assessments will be carried out in Port de Paix, Chansolme, and Bassin Bleu and Hinche (central plateau).

In the Bas Artibonite area of central Haiti, assessments have been carried out in Saint Marc, Desdunes, Dessalines, L’Ester. A visit is planned to Grandes Salines.

In the south of the country, MSF will visit Jacmel and Triburon.

Existing MSF activities in Port-au-Prince are continuing. MSF provides medical and surgical care at La Trinité Trauma Center, emergency obstetrical care in Jude Anne Hospital, and emergency health-care services and essential health services through mobile clinics in the Martissant slum.