Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an organization present in Haiti since 1991, recounts how the social crisis has worsened in recent years in that country.
Twelve years ago, Haiti suffered the worst catastrophe in its history: a magnitude 7.0 earthquake 15 kilometers from Port-au-Prince left nearly 350,000 dead and at least 300,000 injured. Due to this devastating episode, one and a half million people lost their homes. Hospitals, schools and public buildings collapsed and the economic losses at that time were estimated at 4.4 billion dollars.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) witnessed that earthquake and provided health care for more than 350,000 people during the first year. The medical organization, present in that country since 1991, has witnessed the effects of this humanitarian crisis that has not abated. The assassination of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, only increased the instability of the economic and social situation. And, additionally, on August 14, 2021, the country suffered a new earthquake that left 2,200 dead and nearly 12,000 people injured.
During the second half of the year, armed clashes between various groups and attacks on neighborhoods worsened, while people suffered the consequences of indiscriminate violence, house burnings and looting. Meanwhile, food and fuel shortages have threatened vital services, including access to health care. According to the World Bank, 60% of the population lives in poverty and unemployment rates reach 70%, which places the country among the poorest in the world.
How has MSF’s work in Haiti been since the last earthquake?
On August 14, 2021, the same day as the most recent earthquake, Doctors Without Borders opened an emergency center located in Port-au-Prince to stabilize survivors. Additionally, it expanded the capacity of its Tabarre hospital to help people recover from physical and emotional trauma. In the first eight days, this center treated 133 earthquake survivors and 152 other patients. In 2019, this same center treated an average of 2,450 patients per month.
In addition to working continuously since 2012 in Port-au-Prince caring for patients with burns and serious injuries, MSF has provided care in Port-a-Piment, in the southern province of Haiti, where it has provided maternal and reproductive health care. The insecurity situation in the country, in addition to generating supply and mobility problems, has caused a series of internal displacements. Until last June, 15,000 Haitians had been displaced by the violence.