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People in Haiti continue to bear the brunt of political instability and escalating violence, which have pushed the healthcare system to the brink of collapse.

In Haiti, we provide care to victims of trauma, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as sexual and reproductive care. With natural disasters regularly occurring in the country, emergency response also remains a central aspect of our work in the country.

Since the assassination of the Haitian President in 2021, the people of the capital Port-au-Prince have been struggling to survive as armed gangs, police, and civilian self-defence brigades fight in the streets of the city. The already volatile situation has been deteriorating even further after an announcement on 28 February 2024 that elections would be postponed until as late as August 2025. More than 15,000 people were displaced in Port-au-Prince within just one week in early March.

We are scaling up our medical activities to care for the mounting number of people injured in the escalating violence and political unrest that has engulfed the city.

Our teams currently run two trauma hospitals  in Tabarre and Carrefour, two emergency centres in Drouillard and Turgeau, and one centre for survivors of sexual violence in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. Mobile clinics have been temporarily suspended due to  the volatile situation.

The situation in Haiti is the climax of an escalation of violence that has been ongoing for years. An MSF survey showed that between 2022 and 2023, the mortality rate in Cité Soleil was exceptionally high. One in eight people were exposed to episodes of extreme violence such as murder, rape or lynching in the street.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Haiti has not been met with an adequate humanitarian response, especially for health, water and sanitation. The healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, with public hospitals no longer able to provide free care. Displaced people are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and require humanitarian support.

Port-au-Prince is being devastated by a wave of violence and insecurity that is causing a great number of injuries and large-scale displacement, while making it nearly impossible for patients to access medical care and for medical facilities to continue functioning.

Tabarre hospital increased its capacity by 50 per cent and another hospital has opened in Carrefour, while our Emergency Centre in Turgeau re-opened earlier than planned due to the recent escalation of violence.

Our response relies on our ability to ensure sufficient supplies for our hospitals; this ability is currently threatened by the blockage of our incoming medical supplies at the city port, due to the length of the custom clearance procedures and the disruption caused by the fighting. We are now urging the authorities to expedite said clearance and are trying to make sure these supplies are shipped to our medical facilities with the utmost urgency. It is essential that our teams are able to bring in supplies to continue responding to the growing health and humanitarian needs in Haiti.  

The airport also remains closed, making it impossible for supplies or staff to arrive by air. We are exploring all options to move additional medical supplies and specialised staff into Haiti, to maintain and even further increase our activities.

 

What we do in Haiti

Our activities in 2023 in Haiti

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Haiti in 2023 Amid increasing instability and violence in Haiti in 2023, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) worked to maintain vital services, including treatment for trauma, burns and sexual violence, and maternal and neonatal healthcare.
Haiti IAR map 2023

Years of political turmoil and gang warfare have taken their toll on the physical and mental health of the people of Haiti, and on the provision of basic services, such as healthcare. Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, however, the situation has taken a marked turn for the worse and pushed the western hemisphere’s poorest country to the brink of collapse.

In 2023, the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other areas of the country, continued to be rocked by politically and economically rooted gang violence, which sometimes exploded into full-scale street battles, such as the ones in April and May, which resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries. On 24 April 2023 alone, our teams admitted around 50 people with gunshot and knife wounds to our medical facilities.

The foreign intervention requested by Prime Minister Ariel Henry did not materialise during the year, but remains a looming presence as Haitian citizens, in particular in the capital, are confronted by the daily threat of being kidnapped, mugged, sexually assaulted or even killed.

The results of an MSF survey indicate that between August 2022 and July 2023, more than 40 per cent of all deaths in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum, were linked to violence. Forty per cent of the women surveyed said they had foregone antenatal care due to the risk of being exposed to violence while travelling to a hospital or clinic.

Our teams continued to deliver a range of medical services in Port-au-Prince and several other areas in the country, including general healthcare and treatment for burns, trauma, and sexual and gender-based violence. Our facilities include hospitals in Tabarre and Cité Soleil, a sexual violence and reproductive healthcare clinic in Delmas, and an emergency and stabilisation centre in Turgeau. In addition, we support health centres and operate mobile clinics in the most affected neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, such as Brooklyn, Bel Air and Delmas 4, as well as sites where people have gathered after fleeing violence. We are able to work in these hard-to-reach areas because MSF’s work is perceived positively and respected by the communities.

However, our teams were not immune to the risks posed by the volatile security situation in the country. Serious security incidents, which endangered our staff and resulted in the deaths of two of our patients, forced us to suspend some of our activities. We ended our support to Raoul Pierre Louis hospital in Carrefour in January when a wounded patient was removed by gunmen and shot dead. We temporarily closed our Cité Soleil hospital in February and April due to fighting in neighbouring streets, and suspended activities at our Tabarre facility for almost two months after armed men stormed in and forcibly removed a patient in July.

In December, the Turgeau emergency centre closed its doors indefinitely when a patient was taken from an ambulance and killed in the street.

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 armed violence have had a considerable impact on the psyche of entire communities, who have become isolated and more exposed to the risk of sexual aggression.

We ran two clinics, one in Port-au-Prince and one further north in Gonaïves, to provide victims and survivors of SGBV with specialist medical, psychological and social care. A free telephone helpline has also increased access to care, offering victims remote psychological support and referrals to health centres. Our mobile clinics working in hard-to-reach neighbourhoods include SGBV care in their services.

Maternal and neonatal health

The provision and accessibility of maternal healthcare is extremely limited in Haiti, contributing to the highest maternal and neonatal death rates in the western hemisphere (5.3 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively). Our activities in the south of the country aim to respond to these pressing needs.
In February, we reopened a hospital for maternal and neonatal healthcare in the town of Port-à-Piment, a former government-run facility that was damaged beyond repair in the 2021 earthquake.

Our teams rebuilt and upgraded the hospital, which now offers surgery for patients with obstetric complications, as well as ante- and neonatal care. However, as many other medical facilities in Sud department were never properly repaired, access to healthcare remains limited for pregnant women and newborns.

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