Learn more about how we are responding to the coronavirus pandemic in Haiti.
Rates of sexual and gender-based violence remain alarmingly high
In 2018, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide a range of specialist medical services in Haiti, from treatment for victims of sexual violence to advanced surgery and trauma care.
Our teams in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the southwest are filling critical gaps in health services and helping to boost the capacity of the local health system.
Humanitarian crisis in Haiti
Since July 2018, a deepening political and economic crisis has once again put access to health care in Haiti in jeopardy. While thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest skyrocketing prices of goods, a lack of economic opportunities, and government misuse of funds, the international community has mostly remained silent.
According to the World Bank, more than six million Haitians—about 60 percent of the population of the country—live below the poverty line on less than $2.41 (US) per day, and more than 2.5 million fall below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day. This means that most families struggle to buy food or pay for medicines or medical care.
The uncertainty and unrest have also led to an increase in violence. In the first two weeks after reopening our trauma center in Port-au-Prince, more than half of the patients we saw were victims of gunshot wounds. Learn more about how you can help in Haiti and other countries.
Filling gaps in medical services
Many public medical facilities struggle to continue running due to limited resources to pay salaries or purchase supplies, or shortages of drugs, blood, oxygen, electricity, or fuel. Private medical structures are also badly impacted by the crisis: Some have had to let staff go and others have been forced to close. Medical fees have also become too expensive for a large part of the population, with a 35 percent increase in the price of drugs and a 26 percent increase in hospital admission fees in 2019. From September to November 2019, barricades in the streets erected as part of the “Peyi Lok” lockdown protest strategy against the government have at times made it difficult to transfer patients. The Ambulance National Center and some medical structures were also attacked multiple times, and staff members at other facilities have been threatened. All of these factors have led to critical shortages of health care staff and have left Haiti’s health care system on the brink of collapse. Learn how you can best help in Haiti and other countries.
In our five medical facilities in Port-au-Prince and Port-á-Piment, we observe the effects of deteriorating living conditions and the struggle to both seek and provide health care. Because of school closures, our burns hospital in Port-au-Prince has seen a spike in admissions of children injured in domestic accidents while playing too close to stoves at home. We hear stories of patients who can’t afford to pay for transport delaying their visits to medical facilities or failing to come for follow-ups. We are called on by colleagues in other medical facilities to help keep essential services running, and have organized donations of oxygen and medical equipment in order to continue referring urgent cases to specialized structures. We also have recently had to provide transportation for our staff to keep our hospitals running and guarantee their safety due to street barricades and the absence of public transportation. Please donate to support our work in Haiti and other countries around the world now.
Assisting with trauma care
In November 2019 we reopened our Tabarre trauma center in Port-au-Prince. In just a few weeks of operation, the trauma center admitted more patients than we anticipated, and our teams are now working to add more beds to provide lifesaving trauma care for more people. In the five weeks between November 25 and December 29, 574 patients came to the emergency room. One-hundred fifty people suffering from life-threatening injuries were admitted—57 percent of them had gunshot wounds. When you donate to support our work in Haiti and other countries, you're helping provide lifesaving medical care to the people who need it most.
Caring for mothers and children
In 2011, we started running the Centre de Référence des Urgences Obstétricales, a 176-bed hospital in Port-au-Prince for women with obstetric complications and newborns requiring specialist treatment. It closed in July, after offering care to a total of approximately 120,000 women and assisting 40,000 births. We gradually decreased admissions leading up to our departure, while urging the Ministry of Health to fulfill its responsibilities towards women with pregnancy complications.
Helping burns victims
MSF’s 40-bed Drouillard hospital, near the Cité Soleil slum, is the only facility in Port-au-Prince where specialized care is available for patients with severe burns, a widespread problem linked to poor housing conditions. In four years (until the end of November 2019), our teams cared for 2,614 people with burn injuries, at an average of 650 to 700 patients per year. More than a quarter of our patients are children under five, and 90 percent come straight to us without going to a non-specialist facility first. Services include surgery, wound dressing, physiotherapy, and mental health support.
In 2018, MSF completed the construction of a new hospital, with better facilities that will improve infection control, a major issue in burns treatment. We also started running training sessions on burns treatment for medical personnel in other Haitian health facilities. Please donate to support our work in Haiti and other countries around the world now.
Emergency care in Martissant slum
In Martissant, the MSF emergency and stabilization center provided first-line emergency care to 27,794 sick and injured people in 2018. Some were admitted for observation for a few days, but the majority were referred to more specialist facilities after stabilization.
Helping victims of sexual and gender-based violence
Sexual violence is an under-reported medical emergency and care for victims in Haiti remains inadequate. In Pran Men’m clinic, in Port-au-Prince’s Delmas 33 neighborhood, we offer emergency care to victims of sexual and gender-based violence. We treated 1,063 patients in 2018.
Providing primary health care in Sud department
In the southwest, we support the Ministry of Health in the delivery of primary health care, focusing on mother and child health care and water-borne diseases. We have worked in Port-à-Piment since October 2016, and in 2018 rehabilitated and started supporting two more health centers, in Côteaux and Chardonnières. In Port-à-Piment alone, our teams conducted more than 25,500 outpatient consultations, treated 2,183 emergency patients and assisted 624 births during the year, as well as running community health promotion and water and sanitation activities in the surrounding areas in order to prevent cholera outbreaks in this zone.
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