September 19, 2017
Voices From The Field: Françoise in Les Cayes, Haiti
The hurricane destroyed homes and health centers, blocked roads, isolated communities and killed almost 1,000 people. Nearly 300,000 are currently residing in shelters and the UN estimates that over 1.4 million people are in need of emergency aid. The south and west of the country were worst affected: towns such as Jérémie were almost completely destroyed. Our Doctors of the World (DotW) teams have been working in Haiti since 1989. We were on the ground during the deadly 2010 earthquake and the resulting cholera outbreak that took 9,000 lives, and we’re still there, currently responding to Hurricane Matthew.
During Hurricane Matthew, the country’s struggling public health system was severely damaged once again. Many towns were left without access to medical care and other critical services and many communities are at risk of contracting and furthering the spread of disease. Haiti is at risk for another deadly cholera outbreak. Many cases have already been confirmed across the island, with 60 reported in the town of Randel near Les Cayes. Due to damaged infrastructure and lack of adequate services, cholera and other epidemic diseases could spread quickly causing hundreds of otherwise preventable deaths. Without treatment, cholera can be fatal – especially for children and the elderly.
Most of the communities we have reached are still in shock and many people have lost homes, businesses and family members. For many communities, the situation is desperate. There has been an increase in food scarcity, leading some to forcibly stop aid convoys in remote areas in order to find something to eat.
After the Port-au-Prince airport reopened, we were able to send in DotW emergency response teams equipped with medical supplies. Most of our work is being conducted via mobile health units. Our teams have been meeting with local families in southern towns such as Jérémie, Les Cayes, Grand-Anse and Léogâne to monitor and prevent cholera outbreaks while distributing hygiene kits and oral rehydration kits. Oral rehydration kits are particularly important in battling the early stages of cholera. We have also established WASH teams (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) to ensure that people have access to clean water.
By contributing to our Haiti emergency response you will be supporting our mobile health units, which are essential in reaching remote areas that were damaged or destroyed. Through these units we can quickly provide oral rehydration kits and prevent fatalities. Your contributions will also support our long-term efforts to prevent cholera and to rebuild health centers damaged by Hurricane Matthew.