Haiti: Two Months After the Quake, New Services and New Concerns

Haiti 2010 © Benoit Finck/MSF

Distributions of tents and other necessities continue in several locations in Haiti

Two months after the January 12 earthquake, medical needs remain immense in Haiti and living conditions are extremely precarious. Although the phase of urgent life-saving medical care has passed there continues to be a critical emergency context in which thousands of people need post-operative care, rehabilitative care and physiotherapy, as well as psychological counseling. The extremely difficult living conditions increase the stress experienced by people living in camps or in tents throughout Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas. The rainy season has begun, worsening already horrific living conditions for many who still do not have proper access to sanitation facilities and increasing their chances of contracting malaria. There is also insecurity in camps due to poor lighting facilities or poor security management, indicated partly by an increase in sexual violence cases.

Because it is crucial that patients be cared for until the end of their medical treatment, MSF has expanded its capacity to include specialized post-operative care—including plastic and micro-surgery, treatment for burn victims, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and psychological counseling. MSF is also focusing on primary health care, with out-patient departments in various locations in the city, and with secondary-level health care services, including emergency obstetrics, intensive therapeutic care for malnourished children, and inpatient care for pediatrics and adults.

MSF is also continuing with its activities in water distribution, with the construction of sanitation facilities such as latrines, and with the distribution of tents and hygiene and cooking kits. MSF is closely monitoring the situation in the camps and is ready to inform or advocate to authorities about the unmet needs of the population.

Currently, MSF has 348 international staff in Haiti working closely with over 3,000 Haitian staff. With the expansion of services, the 26 MSF hospitals and health centres can accommodate 1,346 inpatients. In the last two months, MSF teams have performed more than 3,700 surgeries, provided psychological counselling to more than 22,000 people, and treated 54,789 patients. MSF teams have distributed nearly 18,000 non-food item kits—including kitchen kits, hygiene kits, jerrycans, blankets, and plastic sheeting—and more than 10,000 tents.