Medecins Sans Frontiers in Haiti

I’m a little late with this blog, overtaken by various events and a deluge of emails. Nothing, however, compares with the deluge of grief and destruction currently overflowing in Haiti following the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 M earthquake nearly two weeks ago. Although many good efforts are underway to stem the tide of suffering, they are already beginning to slow down. The question now being asked on CNN: ‘Is Haiti just a passing fad?’ Donations at the American Red Cross are down by 50% already.

The onus is now on the media and celebrities, many of whom combined to raise over $58 million in the big Hope for Haiti telethon, to maintain public interest in Haiti. (Interestingly, some weren’t so eager to walk the talk and loosen purse strings.) It won’t be long before Haiti disappears from the news shows and people think the problem is resolved – they will be mistaken.

With over 3,000,000 people in Haiti affected (that’s more than the entire population of Toronto, for perspective) and 150,000 confirmed buried already, the scale of the problem is immense. Nearly $3 billion could be needed just for the relief efforts, and so far we’re just out of the emergency phase, says UN.

I’m highlighting two of the finest relief efforts underway in Haiti – both drawing from lessons in the Kashmir earthquake in 2005. The first of these is Medecins Sans Frontiers.

Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders)

A few days ago, Medecins Sans Frontiers contacted me with some information about their efforts in Pakistan and Haiti. They have been working tirelessly in Pakistan in assistance of the IDPs fleeing the conflict in Swat and Waziristan, and recently initiated a fresh effort to combat measles in Lower Dir.

One of the most powerful tools used by MSF in 2005 was the 1000-sq-ft inflatable hospital. These structures host two operating theaters and 100 beds, and are critically important in Haiti because the vast majority of building structures and medical facilities have been destroyed by the shockwaves. In these videos, you can see how the tents first used in Mansehra were then used in Gaza, Sri Lanka, and now in Haiti – a great use of technology indeed!

Video – Inflatable hospital used in Northern Areas of Pakistan

Video – Inflatable hospitals being used in Kashmir, Gaza, Sri Lanka


Inflatable hospital being used in Mansehra, Pakistan:

MansehraRemy Vallet-MSF

The same hospital being set up in Haiti:

Haiti-Benoit Fink-MSF

The first inflatable hospital set up in Port au Prince:

Haiti Benoit Fink-MSF2

The official MSF news update offers the following information:

Every functional operating theatre is used night and day, while logisticians are racing to set up new ones or rehabilitate damaged ones. MSF surgical teams have been carrying out an average of 130 operations per day for the last few days and this is increasing as new surgical teams start work. There are now 10 operating theatres, 7 in Port-au-Prince hospitals (Choscal, Trinité, Carrefour and Chancerelle hospitals) and 3 in towns in the west of the capital (Leogane and Jacmel). In addition, minor surgical procedures like cleaning and removing dead tissue from wounds are taking place in small operating theatres in Trinité and Pacot hospitals.

Watch the video of the hospital setup:

(Videos and images provided courtesy Pascale Zintzen, MSF Communications Advisor)


How to Help

You can contribute to my personal fundraising effort for the Canadian Red Cross by going to this page and using your credit card or PayPal to donate whatever amount you can afford. Even a penny helps.

In my next post, I’m going to highlight why Pakistanis in particular should help Haiti and the effort so far.



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