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PAHO Director Provides Update on Haiti


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): It has been just under a month since a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on August 14 that killed 2,207 people in the affected communities of Grand’Anse, Nippes, and Sud Departments, with a population of just over two million.

During the Sept. 1 regional press briefing on COVID-19 host by the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr. Carissa Etienne updated the public on the country’s situation and needs.

“Most of the functioning hospitals in the earthquake-affected area of Haiti are overwhelmed, and many health facilities have been damaged. We have injured people in remote [communities] who are still without medical attention because they can’t reach health centres or hospitals. An urgent need today is to reach those people and treat their injuries or transfer them to health centres, where they can be helped. To do this, we need more logistical support for the delivery of materials, for the deployment of people and the transfer of patients. More than 24,400 people have been displaced by the earthquake to 58 assembly points, and they need health services where they are now located. Eight emergency medical teams, what we call EMTs, are in Haiti, four more on the way and others are on standby to help in this emergency. We desperately need to restore primary health care services in the affected departments, focusing on maternal and neonatal services. In all, more than 12,000 people were injured in the earthquake, and 2,207 died. We need more medical personnel. We need medicines and medical supplies such as anaesthetic drugs and orthopaedic supplies for the injured. And another important need is [psychosocial] support for healthcare personnel and for the people who have been affected by this earthquake. We are also working to avoid possible outbreaks of diseases, communicable diseases, while at the same time, fighting COVID and helping to increase the vaccination uptake,” said PAHO’s Director.

So far, PAHO has deployed help to the nation in various ways, “PAHO has deployed several specialists from our regional response team to the affected departments to support field coordination, epidemiological surveillance, health cluster coordination, emergency projects, logistics, EMT coordination and others. Additionally, PAHO has deployed 27 tons of medicines and supplies, including the hurricane kit, trauma kit shelter kit, and others.”

However, Dr. Etienne stressed that the country and its people must not be ignored.

“The people of Haiti must not and cannot be forgotten, and we will continue to work until these challenges are met.”

Damage to Haiti did not stop with the earthquake. On August 17, just three days after the quake, the country saw heavy rains from Tropical Depression Grace which triggered flooding and mudslides in some areas already affected by the earthquake.

All of this, after the assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse on July 7.


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