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Haiti earthquake: Medical response update

Haiti / 25.01.2010

Médecins Sans Frontières Nephrologists specialise in earthquake response at the Port-au-Prince general hospital. © Julie Remy

Port au Prince, 24 January: The emergency medical work that Médecins Sans Frontières teams are delivering in Haiti is beginning to shift some of its emphasis towards the next levels of need amongst the people there.

In some parts of Port au Prince, the teams are starting to see more people coming to their hospitals who have infections or complications following basic or amateur attempts at treatment in the early days of the aftermath. Overall pressure on medical services is not declining though. The issue of how to manage the growing numbers of patients needing post operative care is still challenging, as is the requirement to restore medical care to those with chronic conditions and to cope with the citizens' needs for maternity and primary health care.

At the same time, Médecins Sans Frontières teams are still managing substantial caseloads of patients requiring surgery. In Chancerelle hospital in the city, the second operating theatre is being restored and prepared for work. In Choscal hospital in the slum area of Cite Soleil, the theatre has been busy with obstetric emergencies and with some machete and gunshot wounds. In the town of Les Cayes, Médecins Sans Frontières is starting to support the local hospital and to operate there on 150 seriously injured people who had somehow been moved there from the capital. And our inflatable hospital in Port au Prince is getting prepared for the first surgery cases tomorrow. Eighty more patients are being moved there from Trinite hospital to join the 100 from Pacot in what are 6 big inflatable tents. In a Médecins Sans Frontières field hospital adjacent to Carrefour Hospital, nearly 40 people underwent surgery, 60 people were admitted and 350 consultations were carried out.
The psychological consequences of the catastrophe are also becoming even clearer. Médecins Sans Frontières has significant experience of mental health work in disaster areas and has specialists in Haiti who have been working with patients in its hospitals and with our staff who were in the country at the time and have suffered trauma from the terrible events.
Another emerging need is for basic supplies to help families cope with the destruction of their homes and belongings. Médecins Sans Frontières is starting to distribute kits, which include blankets, buckets, soap and cooking utensils to families in Jacmel town. The teams expect to step up these donations elsewhere and today will get their first delivery of these kits from a boat arriving in Port au Prince. The overall cargo plan, by all forms of transport into Haiti, is for some 20,000 kits containing these vital supplies in the coming weeks.


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