A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck western Haiti, the department of Nippes – approximately 100 km west of Port-au-Prince, at 8:29 a.m. on August 14. Multiple aftershocks followed. The strength of this quake exceeded the one that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince in 2010. Nearly 2,200 deaths have been reported with thousands more injured, missing or buried in the rubble. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed and hospitals are overwhelmed with a total of 36 health facilities damaged, 4 completely destroyed and 12 suffering severe damage. Overall, some 2.2 million people have been affected by the earthquake. At least two urban centers suffered devastating destruction – Les Cayes and Jeremie – with communications, roads and other infrastructure shut down, delaying more details of damage assessment. Some rural communities remained cut off from communications and aid for many days.
The torrential rains from Tropical Depression Grace along with the unstable security situation and political upheaval complicate the response to the latest tragedy to strike a beleaguered nation that has survived previous earthquakes, a cholera epidemic and major hurricanes just in the past decade. A state of emergency was declared, and the U.S., international agencies along with several Latin American and Caribbean countries pledged and delivered aid.
Americares relief workers on the ground have assisted in the response. Shipments of critical supplies continued as we worked with local partners to assess needs and provide support for a heavily impacted health system. Americares operated five medical teams that worked to reinforce the Haitian health system. The teams of doctors and nurses worked at health centers to keep up with patient demand and provided mobile services in affected communities to expand access to health services. Americares has provided more than 17,700 consultations. Americares teams saw and treated earthquake-related wounds that had become infected, as well as skin infections, respiratory infections and minor exacerbations of chronic conditions. The teams were made up of Haitian national members of our Global Roster of over 600 health and response professionals.
Photo/Jemps Civil – A member of an Americares mobile medical team checking a patient after the Haiti earthquake.