Haiti: Medical care severely affected by clashes in Cite Soleil

The neighborhoods of Cité Soleil, a commune in the Haitian capital, are once again caught up in a resurgence of violence between rival armed groups. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has treated about 50 people wounded in Cité Soleil since Nov. 13, while other medical services have been forced to close their doors following the violence.

MSF’s Cité Soleil emergency hospital is currently the only medical facility capable of treating patients in the area after the recent closure of the Fontaine hospital for an indefinite period. The Fontaine hospital is a private facility, not affiliated with MSF, that was caught in the middle of clashes on Nov. 15. All the patients and staff of Fontaine hospital have now been transferred to other hospitals in Port-au-Prince, reducing access to medical care in Cité Soleil.

Pregnant women, among other patients, now find themselves in a perilous situation. MSF teams in Cité Soleil have most often referred pregnant women to Fontaine Hospital to give birth. Saint Damiens, a maternity centre  in Port-au-Prince, also closed its doors in late October, mainly due to insecurity.

MSF was also forced to temporarily close its outpatient clinic and reduce its medical teams in Cité Soleil to limit the risks for staff, patients and structures during these episodes of particularly intense and indiscriminate violence. However, MSF’s Cité Soleil emergency hospital remains open to provide emergency services.

“Once again, the population is paying a high price during these clashes between armed groups,” said Mumuza Muhindo Musubao, MSF country director in Haiti. “Some of the residents are forced to leave their homes to seek shelter. Medical facilities can no longer function normally and sick people can no longer reach them, and risk being left behind. MSF reiterates its call to all armed parties to spare the population and respect hospitals and medical facilities, as well as those who work there and are treated there.”