Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, are providing emergency care and treatment to people injured in the collapse of La Promesse School in the Petionville neighbourhood of the city earlier today. More than 80 patients, among them many children, have been transferred to MSF medical structures in Port-au-Prince. Of the more than 50 patients admitted to the emergency ward at Trinite Trauma Centre so far, 25 have been hospitalized and four have undergone surgery.

A new home for MSF maternity hospital

Donors must not ignore critical gaps in medical services for impoverished Haitians

In 2008, MSF welcomed support from 80,000 individual Canadians who contributed directly to our efforts to bring life-saving medical care to those in need. In our annual report for 2008, you will find information on MSF projects funded thanks to this generous support, through detailed descriptions of our programs as well as our audited financial statements. As well, our general director and president share some of MSF’s biggest challenges and accomplishments from the past year.

On January 12, a magnitude 7.0 quake struck about 15 kilometres southwest of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams on the ground have witnessed significant damage to the humanitarian organization’s medical facilities, injuries to patients and staff, and an influx of wounded towards these hospitals in the capital. MSF’s Trinité trauma centre, a 60-bed hospital – and one of the only free-of-charge surgical facilities in Port-au-Prince – was seriously damaged by the quake.

The first reports are now emerging from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams who were already working on medical projects Haiti. They are treating hundreds of people injured in the quake and have been setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities. The Martissant health centre in a poor area of Port-au-Prince had to be evacuated after the earthquake because it was damaged and unstable. The patients are now in tents on the grounds of the centre and the medical staff have been dealing with a flow of casualties from the town.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid worker Danielle Trépanier was rescued Wednesday afternoon after almost 24 hours under the rubble of a collapsed MSF staff house. At the time of the quake, Trépanier, a Canadian logistics administrator, was resting in her bedroom on the second storey because she had been feeling under the weather.  Two other MSF staff were also in the house – on the ground floor. They managed to escape at the onset of the first tremors, just as the house crumbled.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams in Port-au-Prince have been treating very large numbers of people who come to them with fractures, head injuries and other major trauma from the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12. Well over a thousand patients been through the four tented facilities that MSF has set up near the damaged buildings that it used to work in. The main concern at the moment from the medical staff in those clinics is that the need for wound treatment and major surgery is overwhelming.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Port-au-Prince are focusing their attention now on expanding their surgical capacity and two operating theatres are now working to help 300 patients who have been transferred to the MSF facility at Choscal hospital in the Cité Soleil district. The rest of the medical staff are still responding to the hundreds of people at their clinics who need immediate first aid and more basic care for their wounds. Equipment that could be salvaged from the damaged health facilities at Maternité Solidarité hospital has been taken to Choscal.

Laurent Dedieu is a logistics supervisor for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects in Haiti. Since an earthquake hit Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, he has been in frequent contact with teams in the capital, helping to organize the logistics of MSF’s response. Here he describes the logistical challenges the teams are facing right now.