Haiti ten years on
Ten years ago, on January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. The toll was staggering. Many thousands lay dead and injured. Millions were suddenly homeless. The island nation’s infrastructure was decimated. It is estimated that 60 percent of the health system was destroyed, and 10 percent of Haiti’s medical staff either lost their lives or left the country. Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which had been present in Haiti for 19 years prior to the earthquake, was not spared: 12 staff members were killed, and two of our three medical facilities collapsed. In response to the urgent and almost unlimited needs of the population, MSF mounted one of its largest-ever emergency operations, treating more than 358,000 people affected by the earthquake in just 10 months.
Ten years later, though most of the rubble has been cleared and new hospitals have been built, Haiti’s medical system is once again on the brink of collapse amid an escalating political and economic crisis.
Medical facilities struggle to provide basic services due to a lack of staff and shortages of drugs, oxygen, blood, and fuel. The international support that the country received or was pledged in the wake of the earthquake has vanished or never materialized. Media attention has turned elsewhere as daily life for most Haitians becomes increasingly precarious due to raging inflation, the lack of economic opportunities, and regular episodes of violence.