Political instability, conflicts and natural disasters have led Haiti to become the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
From an auspicious beginning as the first independent nation in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1804, Haiti has been plagued by political violence and natural disasters in the 21st Century.
MSF in Haiti 2015
A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, resulting in the deaths of between 46,000 and316,000 people and 1.5 million left homeless.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Haiti in 1991. Our work in the country focuses on providing responses to social violence, healthcare exclusion, endemic/epidemic diseases and natural disasters.
Manise, 19 years old
"I was living in Canaan camp with my cousin after the earthquake. I stayed in the tent and prepared food, while my cousin went out to work. One night, I went to collect some water. Two men arrived and dragged me into an empty tent.
"I shouted so loudly one of them left. The other held on to me tightly and hit me many times. It was around 8pm and there were a number of passersby. No one came to help me.
"I had no problems in my pregnancy until my feet began to swell. My health worsened and one day I lost consciousness and woke up in an MSF hospital. I saw the baby next to me but could not remember the birth … I am worried I won’t be able to feed my son once he is too old for breast milk. I am going to offer to do washing for people."
MSF’s work in Haiti: 2015
The healthcare system in Haiti is struggling to meet some of Haitians’ most basic medical needs, such as treatment for trauma and maternal healthcare.
While a segment of the population can purchase healthcare at private clinics or out of country, healthcare is out of reach for a large proportion of Haiti’s population.
Medical facilities are understaffed and lack the funding to cover operating costs and purchase sufficient medical supplies. MSF continues to fill critical healthcare gaps – most of which pre-date the 2010 earthquake.
Health services in Port-au-Prince
A large number of Haitians live in crowded, unsafe environments, where domestic accidents have become common. Violence, including sexual violence, is also a public health problem but accessible emergency services are scarce.
MSF runs a burns unit in Drouillard hospital, which has become the de facto national referral site for burns patients, nearly half of them (47 percent) under five years old. In 2015, MSF carried out:
- Over 17,550 consultations
- Over 3,550 surgical interventions,
- 12,100 physiotherapy sessions
- 1,600 mental health consultations
In Tabarre, MSF’s 122-bed Nap Kenbe hospital provides surgery and trauma-related care.
The team attended to over 13,000 emergency patients and over 6,400 surgical interventions were performed. Physiotherapy and social and mental health support for rehabilitation were also offered.
Around-the-clock services are available in MSF’s emergency and stabilisation centre in Martissant, and the team attended to 50,000 patients this year. Of these:
- 30,000 were treated for accidental trauma
- 5,000 for violent trauma
Sexual and reproductive care
Sexual and gender-based violence is an overlooked emergency in Haiti. In May, MSF opened the Pran Men’m clinic, a facility offering the emergency medical assistance required during the 72 hours following an assault, along with longer-term medical care and psychological support. More than a third of the 258 patients treated at the clinic were younger than 18 years old.
Located in the Delmas 33 neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, MSF’s 148-bed Centre de Référence des Urgences en Obstétrique (CRUO) provides care to pregnant women experiencing serious and life-threatening complications such as pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, obstetric haemorrhage, obstructed labour or uterine rupture.
In 2015, the team:
- Carried out more than 18,300 consultations
- Assisted over 6,000 births
- Admitted 2,500 babies to the neonatal ward
From @Benedicte_Kurzen on day 4 of her takeover of our Instagram direct from Haiti 1/3 An #MSF team member prepares the bed in the observation room, where patients who are critical can remain with MSF staff close by. The Pran Men M (Creole for”Take My Hand”) clinic in Port-au-Prince is open 24/7 to support survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence. Both a doctor and a psychologist are always available on nightshift. #sexualassault #survivor #breakthesilence #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #sexualviolence #instagramtakeover @NOORimages
Ongoing cholera crisis
The cholera outbreak that began after the 2010 earthquake remains a public health threat.
In 2015, more than 2,300 patients were admitted to the 55-bed Diquini cholera treatment centre (CTC) in Delmas, which MSF runs in partnership with the health ministry, and some 750 patients were treated at the Delmas Figaro CTC.
Find out more in our 2015 International Activity Report.
At the end of 2015, MSF had 1,835 staff working in Haiti. We have worked in the country since 1991.