Direct Relief International is monitoring the Caribbean regions most affected by Hurricane Dennis. Although significant damage has been reported to infrastructure and agricultural areas in Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands, Direct Relief has not yet received specific request for medical assistance.
Direct Relief has also been in communication with a partner organization with direct contacts in Cuba. To date there has been no call for international assistance in response to Hurricane Dennis. According to news sources, about 200,000 people have already been safely evacuated.
Direct Relief International is maintaining contact with health partners in the region and continues to monitor the situation in the Caribbean basin for any potential requests for assistance.
Direct Relief currently has four shipments of medical supplies and essential medicines en route to northern and western Haiti. These materials were shipped prior to the start of Hurricane Dennis, and are estimated to arrive in the country over the next one to two weeks.
At this time, the force of Hurricane Dennis is directed mainly in southern regions of Haiti. Direct Relief's en route assistance may be available to populations who are displaced from the affected areas or potentially re-routed to the south providing that conditions are safe to do so, and if there are adequate health care providers on the ground to effectively receive and utilize the materials. Direct Relief will continue to communicate with the recipients of the en route shipments to monitor their efforts in this regard.
With nearly 80 percent of its population of eight million living in abject poverty, Haiti is considered to be the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere by the United Nations Development Program.
In 2004, Direct Relief provided over $16 million (wholesale value) worth of emergency assistance to Haiti, Grenada and Jamaica immediately after and in the 12 months following the Caribbean flood and storm disasters which began in June 2004.
The health facilities currently receiving Direct Relief's en route shipments to northern Haiti include the Hospital Justinien and Food For The Poor distribution center in Cap-Haitien, the Plaisance Public Hospital, and two rural clinics in Port de Paix and Bayonais, near the city of Gonaives.