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One Month After the Haiti Earthquake, AmeriCares Relief Still Desperately Needed

  • February 12, 2010

One month ago, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti taking at least 200,000 lives, injuring 300,000 and leaving over one million men, women and children homeless. Within days of the disaster, AmeriCares delivered an emergency airlift of medical relief to the battered Port-au-Prince airport. With the help of AmeriCares disaster relief experts who were already on the ground, nearly $14 million in lifesaving aid has been delivered to help Haitian earthquake survivors.  Help AmeriCares Save Lives »

“One month after the earthquake, the health situation remains very severe,” reports Brian Hoyer, a member of AmeriCares emergency response team on the ground in Port-au-Prince. “Now we must focus on primary and community health in order to reduce the possibility of disease for all the people  left homeless by this disaster.”

Prior to the disaster Haiti suffered from high rates of infectious and neglected tropical diseases. The earthquake struck Haiti’s most populated area causing a breakdown in sanitation, clean water, housing and medical services. Many hospitals and health clinics were damaged or destroyed – leaving doctors and nurses without the tools and supplies they needed to care for throngs of injured survivors.

AmeriCares relief workers initially reported dire medical conditions like scenes from the U.S. Civil War – tents filled with people in agony, amputations performed with carpentry saws, broken bones set by hand and alcohol used as a disinfectant.

“The doctors were doing the best they could with what they had. We observed doctors resetting a woman’s severely broken leg without anesthesia while other caregivers did everything in their power to comfort her,” recounted Hoyer. “We delivered pain medicines, but more are desperately needed.”

Hospitals and health clinics treated record numbers of patients despite the damage and destruction to their facilities and equipment, as well as the rapid deletion of their medicines and supplies.

In response, AmeriCares has delivered lifesaving medical aid, including enough anesthesia to treat almost 8,000 people needing surgery and antibiotics to help 90,000 people recover from serious infections. To replenish supplies and replace equipment, AmeriCares has sent everything from a state-of-the-art portable digital x-ray machine to basic supplies, such as sterile gauze and sutures.

“Children under five are the most vulnerable earthquake survivors,” reports Hoyer. “Our long term plan will help support programs to reach these kids and help them be healthy.”

AmeriCares initial relief efforts have included medical aid to help thousands of children suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. Aid deliveries included specialized pediatric nutritional supplements and fluids. Prenatal vitamins were sent to help prevent birth defects and improve the health of thousands of pregnant women. Baby food, rehydration fluids and other supplies are in the delivery pipeline and will help children in orphanages throughout areas of Haiti rocked by the earthquake.

As the rainy season approaches in Haiti, AmeriCares is gearing up to protect vulnerable Haitians from deadly waterborne diseases. The rains threaten over 1.2 million people who lost their homes in the earthquake and now have nowhere else to live except for squalid tent cities.

“The sanitation conditions are terrible with little or no access to latrines and limited water,” said Hoyer.  AmeriCares has delivered water purification solutions, oral rehydration salts and specialized antibiotics to combat and treat diseases which thrive in unsanitary environments.

AmeriCares has been providing humanitarian aid to Haiti for over 25 years, partnering with local health care organizations throughout the country. Before our response to this most recent disaster, AmeriCares had already delivered $145 million in medical aid and humanitarian relief to Haiti.

“After being here for the last month, we are inspired by the strength of the Haitian people and the steps they are taking to redefine their future; and we are grateful to our donors for their support which will allow us to continue to assist in the rebuilding process,” said Rachel Granger, who arrived in Haiti within 48 hours after the earthquake and heads AmeriCares response team.

For over 25 years, AmeriCares has responded with emergency relief and lifesaving aid to catastrophic disasters that have affected millions of families including: Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., typhoons in the Philippines, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, earthquakes in China and Peru, and deadly cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe.

Your gift to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund will help with our lifesaving response to this deadly disaster.

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