Haiti: Five Years Later

On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a violent earthquake that left some 200,000 people dead, 300,000 injured and 2.3 million homeless.

 

Five years on, Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde/MdM) – present in Haiti since 1989 – remains mobilized and, among other activities, is fighting alongside the Haitian people to end the cholera epidemic that continues to ravage the country.

“Port-au-Prince is no longer a town, it is one huge slum. With the earthquake, the politicians and the cholera epidemic, we’re in a living hell,” says Francis, who was living in the neighborhood of Carrefour-Feuille at the time of the earthquake.

After assisting those displaced by the earthquake, and providing life-saving surgery and health treatment, including 580,000 consultations and 800 surgical operations in the year following the earthquake, MdM turned to Haiti’s reconstruction. MdM’s teams on the ground focused on consolidating the health system, providing training to health personnel, and supplying essential drugs and medical equipment.

Currently, MdM is working to transfer the management of the health clinics we support to the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), but Haiti is still extremely vulnerable due to chronic problems of political instability, a lack of qualified personnel and resources, and a fragile health system.

MdM is also actively engaged in combating the cholera epidemic that has raged since 2010. Our network currently covers 9 of the country’s regions, including some particularly hard-to-reach areas where mobile clinics have been put in place to provide a rapid response to reported cases.

“Our strategy consists of training public health clinics in the clinical management of cholera cases. This has helped strengthen epidemiological surveillance and early warning systems with some very encouraging results,” reports Charlotte Berthier, desk officer for MdM France’s program in Haiti. For example, in the administrative department (or district) of Grande-Anse, 3,633 cholera cases were reported between January and October 2013, but only 268 cases were reported for the same period in 2014.

Today, several MdM chapters run programs in Grande-Anse, Bas-Artibonite, Centre, Sud, Ouest, Port-au-Prince, Nord, Nippes and Palmes. In addition to running cholera-response activities, each chapter is also developing programs to support civil society and promote the right to health.

Five years after the earthquake, MdM is helping to reconstruct the still-fragile Haitian health system and lobbying for free health care for pregnant women and children under the age of 5. We are also actively supporting Haitian civil society which is playing an active part in this process of change.