NEW YORK/PORT-AU-PRINCE, MAY 20, 2020—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is continuing to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic by opening a treatment center in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital. This center will help provide a coordinated response to the outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus and strengthen the capacity of the Haitian health care system.
MSF has repurposed the Grands Brules hospital in Drouillard for burns patients to support people who have tested positive for COVID-19 with hospitalization and oxygen, including those who have been referred by the Ministry of Public Health and Population. The COVID-19 center currently has a 20-bed capacity, but it can accommodate up to 45 beds as the outbreak evolves.
MSF’s COVID-19 global response is focused on three main priorities: supporting health authorities to provide care for patients with COVID-19; protecting people who are vulnerable and at risk; and keeping essential medical services running.
The COVID-19 pandemic is posing numerous challenges for health systems worldwide. In Haiti, there is a scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), including crucial items such as masks and medical aprons, as well as medical tools like COVID-19 tests.
“These challenges, including a shortage of medical staff due to travel restrictions, have forced us to reorient our activities at the Grands Brules Hospital, and rely on our existing staff, who are working tirelessly to respond to this emergency,” said Hassan Issa, MSF head of mission in Haiti.
MSF has made preparations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its medical facilities in Haiti by strengthening infection control and prevention and working to ensure proper PPE is in stock. Triage and isolation spaces have been set up in the health structures MSF manages, and in those it supports across the country. Currently, MSF is supporting health institutions in Martissant, Port-à-Piment, Port Salut, Les Cayes, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Gonaïves.
MSF is also holding radio and social media communication campaigns, as well as training sessions to inform people about preventive measures to limit the spread of the disease, including social distancing, proper hand washing, and wearing reusable masks.
MSF has been working in Haiti since 1991 providing basic health care to the public and responding to natural disasters and epidemics. In addition to this new COVID-19 center, MSF will continue to provide regular health care at its three other health structures in the country.