Staff at the MSF Hospital in Tabarre - November 2022
War and conflict

MSF scales up its medical response in Port-au-Prince during chaos in the Haitian capital

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is scaling up its medical activities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to care for the mounting number of people injured in the chaos that has engulfed the Haitian capital since the February 28 announcement that general elections may be postponed as late as August 2025.

The violence has taken on a new dimension since last weekend, causing an explosion in the number of casualties and triggering the government’s declaration of a state of emergency. Faced with this further deterioration in the security situation, the number of wounded – many of them women, children and older adults – requiring treatment by MSF teams has risen sharply.

"The 50 beds in our hospital in Tabarre have all been occupied since the beginning of February, but on February 28 the situation worsened and we had to increase the bed capacity to 75," said Mumuza Muhindo Musubaho, MSF head of mission. "We are receiving an average of five to ten new cases a day, and we are working at the limits of our capacity."

While several local hospitals have stopped functioning, MSF has now reopened its emergency centre in the Turgeau district, two weeks earlier than planned, to increase its medical activities and reduce pressure on its existing facilities. On March 4, MSF also opened its new hospital for the injured in the commune of Carrefour, with an operating theatre and 25 beds. MSF is currently looking for additional hospitals where it could be possible to work in different areas of Port-au-Prince, as insecurity and improvised roadblocks are preventing ambulances from transporting patients.

Thousands of people have fled their homes in recent days due to clashes in their neighbourhoods, while current high tensions have led MSF to temporarily suspend its mobile clinics in several sites. Insecurity in Port-au-Prince has also contributed to an increase in sexual violence in recent years, and MSF teams fear that these figures will rise further as the number of displaced people continues to grow. Last year we provided care to over 4,000 survivors of sexual assault.

Many parts of the city are currently in the throes of violence, which is the culmination of a political, economic and social crisis that has plagued the country since the assassination of its former President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. The country's main port is currently difficult to access due to tension and insecurity in most parts of the city. The international airport has also been closed for several days.

"We are also worried because our stock of medical supplies is extremely difficult to access, not only because of the situation at the port but also because it is impossible to continue with the administrative procedures for customs clearance," Musubaho said. "We fear we will run out of medicines and medical supplies, which are essential to meet the enormous needs we are facing at the moment."

In late 2022, the country was virtually paralyzed for weeks when a wave of demonstrations led to the declaration of "peyi lok" or "country lockdown", hampering movement, economic activity, water and fuel supplies and forcing many health facilities to suspend their activities. Port-au-Prince's healthcare system is again under enormous pressure, struggling to meet needs.

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