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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014


MedPage Today: Haiti facing medical nightmare

Friday, January 15th, 2010

By Michael Smith

North American Correspondent

MedPage Today

The powerful earthquake that hammered Haiti Tuesday afternoon has created a medical nightmare, those familiar with the country say.

"I can't even imagine the kind of horror we're going to see in the next two to three weeks," said Steven Williams, MD, an internist at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh who lived in Haiti for three years and has been a visiting doctor there for 20.

In the days to come, Williams told MedPage Today, Haitians and the international community will try to cope with enormous numbers of dead and injured in a country that had almost no medical resources to start with.

"On a good day in Haiti," Williams said, "there's not enough food to go around, there's not enough potable water, there are not enough sanitation facilities, the hospitals are marginally staffed, they're poorly equipped, and they don't have enough medications."

"And this is not a good day," he said.

The magnitude 7.0 quake struck about five in the afternoon. Its epicenter was about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the crowded capital on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.

The tremor, followed by several aftershocks, left heaps of rubble everywhere in the capital, as building after building collapsed, often with people inside. The headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission, the presidential palace, and countless homes were destroyed.

Particularly important from a healthcare perspective, several hospitals were reported seriously damaged, and others are swamped with casualties.

To read more, visit the MedPage Today web site.


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