Lack of Doctors, Supplies Plagues Quake-Struck Haiti

'Basically, they need everything,' one doctor says of hospitals in Les Cayes, near where quake hit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2021 9:10 AM CDT
Lack of Doctors, Supplies Plagues Quake-Struck Haiti
People injured during the earthquake are treated in the hospital in Les Cayes, Haiti, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

As the death toll continues to climb after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake slammed Haiti over the weekend, killing at least 1,300 and injuring thousands, one dire issue is quickly emerging: the lack of sufficient medical care. Per the New York Times, the nation already had a dearth of doctors, and now, after Saturday's major quake, that situation has only worsened. Medical personnel are scarce—the paper notes there are only a few dozen doctors available for a region that houses 1 million people—as are supplies such as antibiotics and IV drips, and broiling parking lots have been transformed into makeshift outpatient centers. "I'm the only surgeon over there," says an orthopedic surgeon toiling in an interim operating room made out of corrugated tin near the Les Cayes airport. "I would like to operate on 10 people today, but I just don't have the supplies."

The AP notes that small planes from a private company and a missionary group have been transporting injured patients out of Les Cayes and to Port-au-Prince. Members from a Cuban mission have been administering first aid to patients, while the US Coast Guard, along with USAID, has been sending medical staff to the quake region via helicopter, then bringing the injured back to the capital. Doctors Without Borders is on the scene providing medical assistance, the Pan American Health Organization is organizing medical support, and UNICEF is passing out medical supplies to affected hospitals. Still, medical workers are struggling. "Basically, they need everything," a pediatrician who's visited two hospitals in the Les Cayes area tells the AP. "Many of the patients have open wounds and they have been exposed to not-so-clean elements. We anticipate a lot of infections." (More Haiti stories.)

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