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Violence in Port-au-Prince

Urgent need of medical supplies in Haiti as extreme violence isolates people in need

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  • More than 30 medical centres and hospitals in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, have been forced to close amidst escalating violence and lack of medical supplies.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on armed groups involved in fighting and the authorities to facilitate the delivery of medical supply to people in need.

Port-au-Prince – Since the end of February, Port-au-Prince has been engulfed in unprecedented violence, cutting off the Haitian capital from the outside world following the closure of the airport and ports.

As the escalating insecurity has severely disrupted our medical operations, we have not been able to import any supplies since mid-March. The Haitian healthcare system is even more severely affected, leaving people without essential medical services amidst ongoing violence and isolation.

MSF urgently calls on all armed groups involved in the fighting and the authorities in charge of customs to facilitate the delivery of medical supply to civilians in severe need.

If we do not receive our medical supply in the next two weeks, we will be forced to drastically reduce our operations. Mumuza Muhindo Musubaho, MSF head of mission

“If we do not receive our medical supply in the next two weeks, we will be forced to drastically reduce our operations,” says Mumuza Muhindo Musubaho, MSF head of mission.

“We had to increase our capacity to cope with the influx of patients, but unfortunately, the enormous consumption of medications means that we are currently in short supply.”

More than 30 medical centres and hospitals have shut their doors, including the biggest, L'Hôpital de l'Université d'État d'Haïti, due to vandalism, looting, or being located in insecure areas. The closure of the airport and ports since February has left MSF medical facilities critically undersupplied.

“In this emergency situation, customs procedures need to be more flexible, so that medicines and other supplies can be delivered as quickly as possible,” says Musubaho.

Despite the recent reopening of the airport in Port-au-Prince, there needs to be wider cooperation to speed up the customs procedures.

Violence in Port-au-Prince
People on the streets of the Bel Air neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince where armed groups exchange gunfire with police. Haiti, March 2024.
Corentin Fohlen

While supply is becoming scarcer for MSF and other medical organisations, people face urgent medical and humanitarian needs. Those with chronic illnesses, such as tuberculosis and HIV, are at high risk of their conditions worsening due to lack of access to medical services and lifesaving medications. Unsanitary conditions in the numerous displacement sites spread across Port-au-Prince heighten the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera.

The MSF hospital in Carrefour, which opened in March in response to the increased violence, was initially stocked for six months, however the hospital's supplies have dwindled rapidly due to the surge in the number of patients.

“In this context, everything becomes a challenge. Even buying paper for medical reports is a big problem these days,” says Jean Baptiste Goasglas, MSF project coordinator.

Across all MSF projects in the country during March and April this year, our teams provided 9,025 outpatient consultations, treated 4,966 urgent cases, including 869 bullet-wounded patients and 742 victims of traffic accidents. We also admitted 99 severely burned patients at the Tabarre hospital, half of whom were children.

In the current state of emergency, as hospitals continue to close their doors and reduce services, we urge the authorities to ease the custom processes and ask all parties to facilitate the safe transportation of material to medical facilities in order to treat patients.

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