What the world saw as a unique catastrophe in New Orleans in 2005 happened no less than 3 times in Haiti in 2008 when a devastating hurricane hit the Caribbeans. And the worst is, it will happen again.
Haiti is known for its vulnerability to natural hazards, regularly affected by landslides, flooding, tropical storms, earthquakes and tsunamis. In the last decade, it suffered an estimated =A3600 million in hurricane-related damages.
The bad news is climate models predict that these natural disasters are likely to become more intense and frequent there in the coming years.
A vulnerable healthcare system
As well as suffering from political instability, deforestation and lack of public investment, Haiti is also one of the poorest countries in the Southern hemisphere.
Its capacity to protect its citizens and develop an efficient healthcare system capable of responding effectively in times of crisis is weak. In 1994 there were 49 hospitals and 61 other inpatient facilities, with an estimated 90 beds per 100,000 population. Of the country's total healthcare facilities, 32% are operated by NGOs.
Haiti also has the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the Western hemisphere. The leading causes of death are diarrhoea, respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
To add to this, healthcare is expensive, often leaving it out of the poorest population's reach.
MdM has been strongly involved in Haiti since 1996. Its aims are to support to the community health system and promote access to health care for the entire population.
We train hospital surgical staff, care for victims of violence in Port-au-Prince, organised a hospital refurbishment in Jeremie, and provide free primary health care for under 5's and pregnant women in Grande-Anse.
The 2008 Disaster
In 2008, the entire country and its people were completely ravaged by a terrible hurricane. Thousands of houses were destroyed and the water system was terribly damaged. The spread of severe contagious diseases loomed over the heads of the poorest in Haiti, terribly hit by the hurricane and unable to receive the urgent care they needed because of its cost.
Thanks to its team on the ground, MdM was able to respond rapidly to the hurricane by setting up two mobile clinics providing ante-natal care services, nutritional screening for the children of 6 to 59 months, as well as providing ambulatory feeding for moderate malnutrition cases.