In the three months since it opened on November 27, the Tabarre trauma hospital run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince has admitted more than 360 patients in need of lifesaving care, including over 220 patients with gunshot wounds and other violence-related injuries.
“Since opening the hospital in Tabarre, we have seen on a daily basis the devasting impact that violence—from fighting between gangs to violence associated with political demonstrations—has on the lives of people in Port-au-Prince and beyond,” said Hassan Issa, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “The number of severe injuries from violence that we have treated reflects the dire situation prevailing today in Haiti’s urban areas, where gang shootings, car hijackings, and kidnappings regularly occur.”
In order to help more patients MSF doubled the hospital’s capacity shortly after opening, expanding to 50 hospital beds. Ever since, the hospital has consistently remained at near-full capacity, with sporadic peaks in admissions following major incidents of violence or accidents. The most recent peak occurred last week around the period of carnival, when the hospital had its highest number of admissions in a single week with 37 new hospitalized patients.
During the same period, after a deadly shootout between the army and protestors from the police force resulted in armed road barricades and a citywide curfew, we organized escorted transport for our staff to and from the hospital in order to ensure 24-hour service.
Over the last three months the trauma hospital team has treated patients from many neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, with most coming from Port-au-Prince (20 percent), Croix-des-Bouquets (13 percent), Delmas (13 percent), Cité Soleil (11 percent), and Carrefour (11 percent). The most common causes of injury were gunshots (50 percent of admitted patients) followed by road traffic accidents (31 percent) and other violence-related injuries, including potentially fatal knife wounds (12 percent).
Our team at the Tabarre trauma hospital is working daily to help address the needs of the population. In addition to providing lifesaving surgery and emergency care, we began offering follow-up monitoring and physiotherapy to discharged patients in January.
Since the summer of 2018, Haiti has been plunged into a political and economic crisis that has put severe strain on the country’s health care system. MSF has reinforced assistance to the Ministry of Public Health and Population by providing support to Port-au-Prince’s main public hospital, a hospital in Port Salut in the South department, and 10 health centers throughout the country.
We continue to run the Drouillard Burns Hospital in Port-au-Prince’s Cité Soleil neighborhood, the MSF Emergency Center in Martissant, and the Pran Men’m clinic for survivors of sexual violence in Delmas. In February, we opened our newest project in Haiti, which focuses on adolescent sexual health, including sexual violence, in Gonaives, Artibonite department. Read our 2020 report, “Haiti: Ten Years On,” to learn more about MSF’s work in Haiti over the last decade.