September 28, 2023
International Safe Abortion Day: Progress in Mexico, setbacks in the USA
The Haitian authorities announced on Sunday, October 2, 2022 the death of 7 people affected by cholera. The epidemic had caused the death of more than 10,000 people between 2010 and 2019.
Haiti is currently experiencing a complex humanitarian crisis that is largely driven by insecurity and violence which has put a large part of the population at risk. In Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, gangs have blocked the Varreux oil terminal, which in turn has led to a shortage of fuel. This energy crisis has affected the health infrastructure, along with access to clean drinking water. Without a robust healthcare infrastructure and clean water, Haiti has become incredibly vulnerable to a cholera outbreak, especially as living conditions of the most vulnerable people continue to deteriorate.
The rise in violence in Haiti has seriously impeded Haitians access to healthcare, both as medical staff and as patients. Reports of kidnappings and attacks have been steadily growing, forcing many to avoid seeking care for fear they may get trapped in the violence. Medical personnel struggle to reach their health facilities as barricades have been set up across the country. Transport and supply of equipment and medicines has also been hindered due to the shortage of fuel. Three quarters of hospitals have been impeded in Haiti, leaving much of the population without access to essential and life-saving care. The consequences of insecurity are exacerbating an already fragile state, with Haiti having the highest maternal mortality rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, and needs only continue to grow.
The accumulation of insecurity, fuel shortage, and the affected healthcare infrastructure has led to a resurgence of cholera cases, particularly severe in areas under gang control, due to a lack of access to drinking water and services. Those suffering from the diarrheal disease are further hindered from getting to the hospital and ambulances are often unable to get past roadblocks. Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization the tolls will only get worse, especially as the current socio-economic climate further complicates the response to the cholera outbreak.
Humanitarian access has also been compromised. With main roads under gang control, humanitarian organizations face increasingly dangerous situations as they seek to access the most vulnerable populations in need of aid. Many humanitarian partners have been forced to cease all activity on the ground and have restructured their work to ensure a minimum of assistance. The World Food Program and other UN agencies have had their warehouses looted for food. Furthermore, humanitarian funding is insufficient, the humanitarian response plan for Haiti is only funded with US$103.4 million, which only covers a third of the needs for the year 2022. To properly address the crisis ongoing in Haiti, further funding is urgently needed.
Doctors of the World: Preparation to Respond to the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
For the past few months, Doctors of the World has been watching the rapid deterioration of the medical and health situation across Haiti, and the daily violence that the civilian population has to endure. Despite the insecurity in the country, DotW continues to provide institutional and community support while trying to meet the most urgent needs within the limits of what the security situation allows.
Doctors of the World calls on all parties to respect the places and the medical staff, whose work is crucial in the face of the deterioration of the health situation. DotW is particularly concerned by the resurgence of cholera cases, three years after the end of cholera in Haiti. Haiti had endured a brutal cholera outbreak between 2010 to 2019 that took thousands of lives. Through the mobilization of health actors in Haiti, including DotW, the outbreak was finally controlled. Besides preventing another cholera outbreak, safe access to health care providers and funding for services is urgently needed to prevent high levels of unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths, and to protect women and girls from sexual violence. The crisis from Haiti will likely not be resolved quickly, but irregardless access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and we must continue to ensure that everyone, especially the most vulnerable populations, have access to the care they need.
© Medicos Del Mundo
© Ralph Tedy Erol