Haitian health needs shift to post-operative care – UN

A doctor examines a pregnant Haitian woman living in a tent inside Port-au-Prince's National Stadium

17 February 2010 – The focus of relief efforts in Haiti has shifted to post-operative care as the recovery process enters its second month, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Current health priorities, according to WHO, include following up with patients who have undergone surgery, rehabilitative services for people with disabilities, and providing primary health-care services in overcrowded situations.

The agency said that outbreak control and environmental health interventions are also essential to prevent and control epidemics.

Yesterday, WHO reported that there has been no rise in infectious diseases one month on from the disaster, with the finding based on epidemiological surveillance carried out by 52 sites across the Caribbean island nation.

On top of the more than 50 WHO/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) staff on the ground in Haiti, dozens more experts in fields ranging from disaster management to water and sanitation were deployed to the Caribbean nation, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

“Haiti’s entire health system, from its infrastructure to the very staff and system that operated it, has been deeply affected by the earthquake,” WHO said in its latest update.

Over 200 staff members died when the health ministry building collapsed, while many doctors and nurses were also killed or injured.

In total, the 12 January quake claimed more than 200,000 lives, leaving over 300,000 others injured and 1 million Haitians homeless.

Henriette Chamouillet, WHO’s Representative in Haiti, paid tribute to the hundreds of Cuban health professionals in the country at the time of the tremors, with some 1,300 additional doctors and other staff being dispatched after the quake.

“They are absolutely important for the country,” she stressed at a press conference today in Geneva.

Dr. Chamouillet said that Cuba has long been training roughly 80 Haitian doctors per year, most of whom return to their home country following their schooling.

For its part, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that the humanitarian situation in Haiti is on the upswing, with the port, airport and other essential infrastructure gradually coming back online.

The Office warned, however, that shelter and sanitation needs, as well as rubble removal, are among those that remain unmet.

Tomorrow afternoon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be launching a revised flash appeal for Haiti, along with his Special Envoy for Haiti, Bill Clinton, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.

Just three days after the quake, the UN called for $575 million, with a bulk of the funds intended to be directed to urgent needs, including food, water and shelter.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

No spike in infectious diseases reported in post-quake Haiti – UN health agency

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