A recently published report by Médecins Sans Frontières has highlighted how ten years after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti – the health system is today close to collapse.
On 12 January 2010, an earthquake of a 7.0 magnitude struck Haiti. Thousands were injured or killed, and millions were left homeless. Amongst other infrastructure, it is estimated that 60% of the health system was destroyed. It is further estimated that 10% of Haiti’s medical staff either left the country or lost their lives.
Ten years on, in spite of new hospitals having been constructed and the rubble having been cleared – in a context of political and economic crisis, Haiti’s health system is once again in peril. This political and economic crisis has been largely ignored by the international community.
According to the World Bank, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $870 in 2018 and a Human Development Index ranking of 168 out of 189 countries in 2018. Over six million Haitians live below the poverty line on less than US$ 2.41 per day, and more than 2.5 million fall below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day. Haiti remains extremely susceptible to natural hazards, predominantly hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. According to the World Bank, recovery efforts are still ongoing two years after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in 2016, which caused losses and damages estimated at 32% of 2015 GDP.
According to MSF, many public medical facilities in Haiti are struggling to continue operations due to insufficient resources to pay salaries and purchase supplies, or due to a shortage of drugs, blood, oxygen, electricity or fuel. MSF re-opened its Tabarre trauma centre in Port-au-Prince in November 2019. In the few weeks between 25 November and 29 December, 29,574 patients arrived into the centre’s emergency room.