• On August 14, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, leaving more than 650,000 people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
• Since September 19, more than 7,600 Haitians have been expelled from the United States and sent to Port-au-Prince.
• As of October 10,
International Medical Corps had provided more than 2,900 medical consultations and distributed more than 18,100 liters of potable water to residents and healthcare providers.
On August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, causing at least 2,248 deaths and injuring more than 12,760 people. As ongoing relief efforts have continued for nearly two months, additional humanitarian crises have made implementation difficult. Security threats and violence in the capital of Port-au-Prince make logistics to earthquake-affected areas difficult. Roads remain controlled by gangs, requiring shipments to be escorted to the south by convoy. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant public health threat, as the number of returning Haitians has surged since September. According to the International Organization for Migration, since September 19 nearly 7,000 Haitian migrants have been expelled from the United States, averaging 400 returning Haitians each day. The complexity of the emergency leaves the population at increased risk for communicable disease, psychological stress, gender-based violence (GBV) and other public health concerns.
International Medical Corps Response
International Medical Corps deployed its Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Type 1 Fixed medical facility to Haiti in late August to address the urgent health needs of earthquake-affected populations in Aquin, Sud department. The EMT Type 1 Fixed is a self-sufficient outpatient health facility that is fully equipped to serve a minimum of 100 patients per day. We deployed the EMT in Haiti in partnership with the Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF), a nonprofit organization with the mission of supporting projects and programs that provide measurable results for at-risk populations and ensure greater economic vitality in Haitian villages.
EMT services continue, with outpatient volume averaging between 80 to 100 patients per day. Health promotion, GBV and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services are fully incorporated into clinic activities, with daily patient “health talks” covering a range of topics, including hand hygiene, mental health, disease prevention, vaccination promotion and women’s health. These talks enable the seamless integration of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition services into clinical activities, and have been met with remarkable success. Furthermore, GBV and MHPSS services have been seamlessly integrated into clinical services, with direct referral pathway to support and services. As of October 10, staff and volunteers at the EMT had provided 2,949 medical consultations to area residents, with 100 consultations directly related to the earthquake and 294 indirectly related to the event.
The team is working closely with the Ministry of Health at the Hospital de Referencia to facilitate COVID vaccination for all staff and clinic patients. All International Medical Corps national staff received sensitization training over the course of the week and were encouraged to get vaccinated. Though there continues to be vaccine hesitancy among community members, including staff, through conversations about vaccine safety and accompanying others to others get the vaccine, many staff members accepted the vaccine and received their first dose at the end of last week.
International Medical Corps’ medical team completed a full inventory of the EMT pharmacy last week. Given the logistical and security constraints in Haiti, the team modified its stock card system, for improved monitoring of consumption and stock levels, and better forecasting of clinic needs. These changes will help mitigate pharma and supply ruptures and reduce stockout.
The medical team is continuing to explore additional opportunities to fill existing gaps in Aquin related to primary healthcare. Potential interventions include a comprehensive package of services that includes maternal and child health, reproductive health, mental health, care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, treatment of exacerbated non-communicable disease, emergency stabilization and referrals.
Our GBV response officers completed an eight-day training course on GBV case management, and activated response services on October 7, in coordination with health programming, to facilitate referrals. The GBV team was invited by La Fondation de AVSI and the Ministry for the Status and the Rights of Women to present an overview of case management for NGOs based in Aquin, Les Cayes and surrounding areas. Participants indicated an interest in case management training and requested follow-up sessions. In coordination meetings, partners also highlighted an urgent need for case management services and training to complement existing prevention and response services.
This week the MHPSS team will honor World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, October 12 at the EMT site. The event will be led by International Medical Corps staff, with visits from the mayor of Aquin, civil society authorities, religious leaders and other members of the community. The MHPSS team continues to implement new services, including door-to-door and radio messaging on the different services offered at the EMT.
The WASH team continues to promote hygiene to patients, caregivers and bystanders each morning at the clinic. This week, hygiene promotion messages focus on the use of the latrines at the EMT, handwashing and the use of the garbage bins at the EMT. Next week, the WASH team will conduct a community assessment to determine additional needs-based opportunities for services.