Haiti: Violent clashes block access to MSF hospital for burn care

Lunos Saint Brave/MSF

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI/NEW YORK, February 10, 2021—Gun battles in the area surrounding a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Port-au-Prince are repeatedly making it unsafe for patients and staff to enter or exit the facility, the organization warned today.

MSF's Drouillard Hospital, located in Port-au-Prince's Cité Soleil neighborhood, is the only specialized burn care hospital in Haiti.

"On Monday morning, and again this afternoon, we had to interrupt activities for several hours following an exchange of gunfire near the hospital," said Aline Serin, MSF head of mission in Haiti. "We protected the patients from possible stray bullets in the outpatient department, and the staff stayed at the bedside of bedridden patients who could not move. Staff were unable to leave the hospital grounds as planned."

MSF staff put in place 24-hour shifts to ensure a continuous presence with patients. "We are adapting to this situation thanks to the dedication of our staff, but this violence affects how we are able to run this hospital and care for our patients," Serin said. "The ongoing conflict in the area forces us to reduce our teams, and considerably complicates our work."

It is vital for patients with severe burns to have continuous care due to the risk of complications, MSF said. The Drouillard Hospital has been operating beyond capacity in recent days due to large numbers of admissions.