December 22 11:25 AM
After a series of natural disasters and ongoing political and economic crises, Haiti’s health care system remains precarious.
Our work in Haiti
In 2022, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) endeavored to fill the massive gaps in health care in Haiti, a country wracked by escalating violence and a deadly resurgence of cholera.
Violent incursion by armed men in Tabarre hospital
July 7, 2023—Approximately 20 armed men violently entered the MSF hospital in Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, forcibly removing a patient being treated for gunshot wounds from the operating room. MSF strongly condemns this incursion, which demonstrates once again the unprecedented level of violence currently raging in Port-au-Prince. All trauma and burn care activities at the Tabarre hospital are currently suspended due to this incident.
What's happening in Haiti?
The already volatile situation has deteriorated significantly in Haiti as rival gangs wage a brutal war on the streets, paralyzing and isolating the capital, Port-au-Prince, for extended periods of time. These unprecedented levels of violence have led to a steep increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals. In July alone last year, over 300 people were killed, numerous cases of rape were reported, many houses were burnt down, and more than 20,000 people were displaced across the city.
In these very challenging conditions, our teams worked to maintain and expand activities in our three trauma and emergency hospitals in Port-au-Prince. We treated victims of gunshot and stab wounds and victims of sexual violence, as well as people with severe burns and injuries related to road accidents.
How we're helping in Haiti
Our hospital in Cité Soleil had to suspend activities in April last year after a patient was killed just outside the building. However, in July, we reopened the facility to respond to the large influx of wounded patients.
Following the announcement of an increase in fuel prices last September, violent protests broke out across the country. Barricades were erected, cutting off many of the main roads, and economic activity ground to a halt. The situation was compounded when one of the major gangs blocked access to the country’s main oil terminal for more than a month, exacerbating fuel shortages and forcing health care facilities to close or reduce services, as they depend on generators to produce electricity.
Unrest also temporarily disrupted the water distribution network, reducing supply and creating ideal conditions for the resurgence of cholera. As the outbreak spread, the health situation soon became dire, as even basic services had become practically inaccessible due to the ongoing violence and the fuel crisis, which has continued long after access to the oil terminal was restored.
To alleviate these problems, our teams continue to deliver a range of medical services in the capital and other parts of the country despite huge challenges in obtaining fuel and medical supplies and in referring patients between different facilities. In addition to running and supporting hospitals and health centers, we operate mobile clinics in the most affected neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, such as Brooklyn, Bel’Air, Bas Delmas, and Delmas 4. We are able to work in these hard-to-reach areas because MSF’s work is perceived positively and is respected by the communities.
Sexual and gender-based violence
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a widespread issue in Haiti. The deepening socio-economic crisis and high levels of gang-related warfare have had a considerable impact on the psyche of entire communities. MSF runs two clinics, one in Port-au-Prince and another further north in Gonaïves, and supports three hospitals providing victims of SGBV with specialist medical, psychological, and social care. A free telephone helpline has decreased barriers to care, offering remote psychological support and referrals to health centers. Our mobile clinics working in unsafe, hard-to-reach neighborhoods include SGBV care in their services.
The provision and accessibility of maternal health care is extremely limited in Haiti, contributing to one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Our activities in the south of the country aim to respond to the pressing needs in this area. In 2022, we expanded our sexual and reproductive health activities at our clinic in Port-à-Piment, in Haiti’s southwest, and started to offer surgery for complicated obstetric cases, as well as ante- and neonatal care.
Emergency response to a cholera outbreak
Overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions and poor access to clean water were factors in a major resurgence of cholera, a disease that has killed around 10,000 people in Haiti since 2010, when an epidemic hit the country in the wake of a major earthquake.
Following the arrival of the first suspected cholera cases at MSF facilities in late September, we admitted approximately 13,000 patients to our six cholera treatment centers (CTCs) in and around Port-au-Prince by the end of the year. In addition, we treated around 2,500 patients in the four CTCs we opened in the department of Artibonite, north of the capital.
Our teams responded to the outbreak across the country, supporting local communities by chlorinating water points and raising awareness on hygiene measures in some of the worst-affected neighborhoods. In December, we provided logistical support to the cholera vaccination campaign carried out by the Ministry of Health, to ensure that the highest number of people possible were immunized against the disease.
How we're helping
Emergency room consultations
Patients treated for physical violence
People treated for sexual violence
*Data from MSF International Activity Report 2022