Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic by opening a treatment centre in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, to help provide a coordinated response to the new coronavirus outbreak and strengthen the capacity of the Haitian healthcare system.
MSF has re-purposed the Grands Brûlés hospital in Drouillard, a neighbourhood of the capital, to support patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been referred by the Ministry of Public Health and Population, with hospitalisation and oxygen. The COVID-19 Centre is launching its activities with a 20-bed capacity, but can accommodate up to 45 beds, as the outbreak evolves.
Our COVID-19 global response is focused on three main priorities: supporting health authorities to provide care for patients with COVID-19; protecting people who are vulnerable and at risk; and keeping essential medical services running.
Protective equipment is scarce
However, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing numerous challenges for health systems worldwide. In Haiti, there is a scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), including crucial items such as masks and aprons, and medical tools such as COVID-19 tests.
“These challenges, including a shortage of medical staff due to travel restrictions, have forced us to reorient our activities at the Grands Brûlés hospital, and rely on our existing staff, who are working tirelessly to respond to this emergency,” said Hassan Issa, MSF Head of Mission in Haiti.
We have made preparations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at our medical facilities by strengthening infection prevention and control, and working to ensure proper PPE is in stock. Triage and isolation spaces have been set up in the health structures we manage, and in those we support across the country. Currently, we are supporting health institutions in Martissant, Port-à-Piment, Port Salut, Les Cayes, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Gonaïves.
Communicating to communities to prevent the spread
MSF is also holding radio and social media communication campaigns, and training sessions to inform people about preventive measures to limit the spread of the disease, including physical distancing, proper hand washing, and wearing reusable masks.
MSF has been working in Haiti since 1991, providing basic health care to the public and responding to natural disasters and epidemics. At the same time as we launch our COVID-19 treatment centre in Port-au-Prince, we will continue to provide regular healthcare at our three other health structures in the country.