Project HOPE team members work to load a landslide survivor onto a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter for transport to Port-au-Prince. The man had been buried in a landslide for a week and had a broken femur and was suffering from dehydration and hunger. (Courtesy of Project Hope)
Project HOPE team members work to load a landslide survivor onto a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter for transport to Port-au-Prince. The man had been buried in a landslide for a week and had a broken femur and was suffering from dehydration and hunger. (Courtesy of Project Hope)

Some have called the situation in Haiti “a forgotten disaster.”

That’s because it appears that much of the western world hasn’t bothered to call to mind what residents in the Caribbean nation have experienced.

In August, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that tore through the island nation left more than 2,200 people dead and at least 30,000 homeless. Further exacerbating the country’s need, Haiti hadn’t fully recovered from the 2010 quake for which officials put death estimates at more than 300,000.

Today, over one month since the August quake, half of the Haitians affected — about 400,000 people — still need humanitarian assistance, according to Project HOPE, a D.C.-based international health care organization.

“To get medical care, some people are walking for hours,” said Project HOPE’s Director of Emergency Response and Preparedness Tom Cotter, who led a team into Haiti in the initial days after the quake. “Some come on the back of motorcycles. One man with severe crush injuries to his limbs was carried down the mountainside by a family member and then brought in the back of a pickup truck.

“When people do get to a clinic, they hope that it is not one of the 32 health facilities that were completely damaged or destroyed,” Cotter said in a news release. “If the clinic is operational, they still may have to face shortages of medical supplies and personnel to treat them. If it isn’t, they are being tended to outside amidst challenging weather, heat, mosquitoes, and potential violence from crowds.”

Project HOPE has worked in Haiti since the 1980s and deployed an Emergency Response Team after the earthquake to conduct rapid assessments of the situation and most urgent needs on the ground.

The organization now helps the country’s health system recover for the long term.

“While the urgent medical needs from houses falling on people have passed, there are other more deadly medical needs that will continue to emerge in the next few months, due to the disruption to the health care system and supply chain for Haiti,” Cotter added. “People are at risk of infectious diseases like cholera, acute respiratory infection, diarrhea, and malaria. Over 119,000 people are in need of clean drinking water, while 130,000 are trying to figure out where they will sleep with their children since their homes were destroyed.

“With so many people gathering in temporary camps and shelters, concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus are yet another source of stress for these communities,” he said. “On top of the physical trauma being attended to, only a few doctors in Haiti are trained to provide mental health support. We must remain committed to supporting recovery and rebuilding the capacity of this country beyond when the cameras leave and the news coverage ends.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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