Friday, January 15, 2010

From Doctors Without Borders

Haiti: MSF Treats More Than 1,000 Patients; Inflatable Hospital on the Way 

January 14, 2010

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams in Port-au-Prince are treating large numbers of people who suffered fractures, head injuries and other major trauma during and after the January 12 earthquake.

See how MSF used inflatable hospitals after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. MSF uses inflatable hospitals to provide critical medical care in disaster areas. Portable operating theaters, they can be readied in enormous crates and quickly loaded onto planes. These kits comprise beds, rolling trays, respirators - all the equipment and medicines required to provide effective lifesaving surgery.

More than 1,000 patients have received care in the four tented facilities MSF set up near the damaged buildings in which it had been working. The primary concern at the moment is the overwhelming numbers of people who need immediate treatment and major surgery. An MSF team is beginning to work in the operating theater of a major public hospital in the capital’s Cite Soleil district, while other MSF staff are trying to identify additional medical structures that remain intact.

An inflatable MSF field hospital, equipped with two operating theatres, is expected to arrive by air in the next 24 hours. Crucial personnel, including surgeons and anesthetists, and supplementary stocks of medical supplies are on the way as well.

Food, water and shelter materials are all in short supply, however. "Basic provisions were always problematic for people in Port-au-Prince but the position is far worse now," said Vincent Hoedt, one of MSF's emergency coordinators. "And obviously there's a concern for people who are already weakened by injuries. There are also shortages of things like gasoline, which affects the working of all kinds of vital equipment."

MSF has seven charter flights stocked with staff and supplies ready to travel to Port-au-Prince, but thus far, only one has been able to fly into Haiti. That flight carried 25 tons of relief material—tents, medical disaster kits, blankets, plastic sheeting, jerrycans, and hygiene and cooking sets—from an MSF facility in Panama.

While MSF is sending up to 80 additional staff members to reinforce the ongoing efforts to provide emergency care for those who need it, the organization remains concerned about our staff in Port-au-Prince. As of yet, the teams on the ground have not been able to confirm the whereabouts of all their Haitian staff.

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