MSF opens health centre for flood victims in Gonaives

In the Haitian city of Gonaives, hit by flooding due to the tropical storm Jeanne last weekend, Médecins Sans Frontiès;res (MSF) has opened a health center in Raboteau, one of the slums of the western part of the city, and the MSF team has started the first consultations.

"The center existed before the disaster but was not operational at all", says Silvien Auerbach, MSF Head of Mission in Haiti. "Thanks to the local population which helped us removing the mud and cleaning it, it can now be used for consultations. The next priority will be to ensure correct water and sanitation".

Two former operation rooms will be used for general consultation; one for psychological support; one for child births. Emergency kits able to treat 10,000 people have been transported to the centre by road yesterday. The MSF team of four (a doctor, nurse and two logisticians) has started providing health services to the people.

So far over 1,000 people have been reported dead, according to local and UN oficials. The figure is expected to still rise.

"What the tens of thousands homeless people in Gonaives need now is to have access to clean water and food, find shelter, and health care," said Donatella Massai, responsible for operations coordination in Haiti at the Brussels office. "They need non food items, such as jerrycans and kitchen kits, to store drinking water and prepare food themselves. Other items such as soap and clothes are also badly needed. Other humanitarian organisations are on the spot and should contribute to meeting these needs as quick as possible".

In addition to basic health care, MSF will also pay particular attention to the water and sanitation, and evaluate the risks of epidemics of malaria and waterborne diseases.

The MSF emergency team is being reinforced with additional international staff. One nurse and one specialist in water and sanitation will arrive in Port-au-Prince tonight (local time). A second doctor as well as one psychologist should arrive in Haiti on Saturday.