In response to four major storms and massive flooding that have deluged Haiti and displaced more than 110,000 people, Direct Relief International has airlifted more than $1.6 million (wholesale) of medical material aid to on-the-ground partners and is staging an additional $737,000 of medical inventories for transport next week.
FedEx has provided air transport free of charge.
With food and clean water scarce, Direct Relief partners requested nutritional supplements, oral rehydration solutions, antibiotics, wound-care products, and personal care supplies. These essentials were donated by Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, and other corporate partners, or were purchased by the organization.
The delivered and staged materials, which total 26 tons, are being supplied to several partner organizations, including Visitation Hospital, Haitian Resource Development Foundation, and Partners in Health.
Visitation Hospital, a nonprofit outpatient facility in rural Petite Riviere de Nippes, serves a population of 266,000. Its staff of 25 sees about 85 patients a day and handles emergency care as needed. Comprehensive care is provided free of charge to 85 percent of its patients, whose health issues include serious malnutrition, malaria, and respiratory infections. The consignment of $635,000 (wholesale) of medicines, particularly antibiotics, is to support the clinic’s emergency treatment for flood-affected people.
Medicines and supplies valued at more than $370,000 have been furnished to the nonprofit Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF), which supports three hospitals in Haiti, including the 200-bed Hôpital de la Communaute Haitienne in Petionville. The 24-hour facility treats more than 28,000 people a year for gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, hypertension, diabetes, and malnutrition. HRDF facilitates aid delivery through customs in Port-au-Prince and then on to hospitals.
HRDF President Dr. Aldy Castor reports that many roads are still impassable, and says that patients are presenting with dermatitis, cholera-like symptoms, and wound infections, all from prolonged contact with floodwaters. “The situation in Haiti is very precarious,” he reports. “The 800,000 people who were affected—10 percent of the country’s population—were already poor, and now they have lost everything, their homes, their crops, their possessions. When they get sick, they can’t take care of their children.” Antibiotics and personal care supplies are making the most difference now.
A 40-foot shipping container of medical aid is scheduled for delivery next week to Partners in Health, which provides comprehensive healthcare for half a million people living in the mountainous Central Plateau. In its 104-bed hospital and eight clinics across the region—home to the poorest people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere—it treats hundreds of patients a day. It has mobilized staff to work in the storm-affected areas, as well.
Collapsed bridges and flooded or damaged roads remain obstacles, and as the waters recede, pervasive mud challenges transportation. As the academic year starts in Haiti, shelters set up in schools are being moved to allow classes to begin. Diarrheal diseases and respiratory and skin infections are most common among the displaced population, as sanitation systems are disrupted. Many Haitians were stranded on their rooftops for days during the worst of the flooding.