Haiti Floods - Francois Sevranckx
Photo: Francois Sevranckx

The floodwaters have now fully receded in storm-ravaged Gonaives, and the streets are covered in mud and garbage. People are living in harsh, dirty conditions without widespread access to clean water. Since MSF arrived in Gonaives on September 4, teams have carried out over 2,300 medical consultations at the Raboteau Health Centre. MSF helped restore the centre following the tropical storms and hurricanes that devastated much of the city in late August and early September. For the last 12 days, MSF has been operating mobile clinics out of shelters, schools, and orphanages in Gonaives. Teams have also traveled by helicopter to some landlocked villages on the outskirts of the city. Mobile clinic teams have so far performed nearly 600 medical consultations. MSF is also providing mental health services to displaced people, especially the elderly and children. Following the peak of trauma cases resulting from the storms and floods, many more people are suffering from the unhygienic and precarious environment in which they now find themselves. Common health problems include diarrhea, dehydration, respiratory infections, and skin diseases. Cases of malaria are now beginning to appear and there is concern that the unsanitary conditions could lead to epidemics, such as dysentery or measles. The MSF team in Gonaives consists of 16 international workers and 100 locally-hired staff.

Emerging malnutrition

Of 558 children less than five years of age examined at the Raboteau clinic, 12 have been diagnosed with severe malnutrition and 62 with moderate malnutrition. All are being treated with nutrient dense, fortified ready-to-use foods. The MSF team is monitoring an additional 92 children at risk of becoming malnourished. MSF is monitoring the food security situation, which, while precarious at the best of times, has been made worse by the storms.

Medical capacity and water distribution increasing

An MSF logistics team, in partnership with Haiti’s ministry of health, is currently working to complete construction of a 70-bed hospital, which should open in the coming days. Water distribution points set up by MSF throughout Gonaives provide 350,000 litres of clean water per day to roughly 150,000 people, or half the total population of Gonaives. To date, more than 2.2 million litres of water have been provided.

Needs assessed elsewhere in the country

In the northwest of Haiti, MSF teams have traveled to Port De Paix via Anse Rouge, Bombardopolis, and Jean Rabel. Yesterday, they traveled to Bassin Bleu and Chansolme, and another team visited Tortue Island. None of the areas visited require MSF interventions. Local health facilities are able to meet needs, although there is a lack of medicines in some places and MSF teams have supplied them with drugs. Limited access to healthcare in many of these areas is an ongoing problem and not a direct consequence of the recent storms and flooding. In the Bas Artibonite area in central Haiti, an MSF team has traveled from St. Marc to Dessalines, via Desdunes L’estere and Petite Riviere de l’Artibonite. They carried out over 300 consultations in one of the most inaccessible areas in the St. Marc district, which the team had to reach by boat due to flooding. Assessments have also been performed in and around Hinche, where local health facilities were found to be meeting basic needs. In the south of the country, a team traveled from Jacmel to Marigot, and found that interventions were not warranted there.

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