PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – The Paris-based independent international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has expressed concern over the temporary closure of several hospitals in Haiti, due to the kidnapping of doctors lately. time.
Health officials were kidnapped as Haitian authorities faced an increase in armed clashes between rival gangs in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.
“We are very concerned about the unacceptable situation of insecurity affecting our colleagues in the Haitian medical community,” said Dr. Samson Frandy, medical officer of MSF’s Turgeau emergency centre.
“The effects on the already weak healthcare system are enormous, and this situation is putting a strain on our center that is difficult to bear. Kidnappings for ransom that target many residents of Port-au-Prince, including medical personnel, are making it increasingly difficult for the population to access health care,” he said in a statement.
At least four hospitals have been temporarily closed in support of the kidnapped doctors, and many patients from these centers are being referred to the overwhelmed Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency center in Turgeau.
On May 5, St-Luc and St-Damien hospitals suspended services after Dr. Benetty Augustin, a pediatrician specializing in the care of children with epilepsy, was abducted on her way to work and on May 17, Jacques Pierre Pierre, the medical director of the Haitian State University Hospital (General Hospital), was kidnapped.
Bernard Mevs Hospital, one of Haiti’s leading hospitals in support of the Haitian Pediatric Society, closed for three days to protest the kidnappings.
MSF said the closures have worsened an already difficult situation in a country where access to healthcare is problematic for the majority of the population.
“We are doing our best to provide emergency care, but soon we will not know where to refer patients who need further treatment. If health professionals continue to be attacked and targeted, the Haitian health system may no longer be able to meet the needs,” Dr. Frandy warned.
During the April 24-May 7 war between the “400 Mawoso” and “Chen Mechan” gangs, at least 96 people were treated for gunshot wounds at MSF medical facilities in Port-au-Prince.
MSF had also suspended its services on April 1 due to gang violence.