On Saturday 14th August, a major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula in the Caribbean nation of Haiti; causing severe damage to infrastructure, including hospitals, at the Northern coast of the Southern peninsula of the country. More than 12,000 people have been left injured, with over 2,000 deaths and 332 people still missing after the devastating earthquake. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has described the country as being “on its knees”.
Yesterday, a team of four travelled to Haiti to assess requirements for medical assistance and identify additional support for the country.
The team of medical experts from UK-Med and Humanity & Inclusion UK are travelling from the UK, Italy and France, and specialise in emergency medicine, rehabilitation, and logistics, as well as humanitarian healthcare. They will be undertaking an urgent needs assessment over the coming days and are expected to be in the country for up to 2 weeks.
The team are being sent as part of the UK Emergency Medical Team by the UK Government, as part of a package of up to £1 million of initial support to Haiti, as the country recovers from the recent devastating earthquake.
At UK-Med, the people of Haiti have a special place in our heart. Following the earthquake in 2010, we were part of the UK’s surgical response to the earthquake, predominantly performing limb salvage surgery.
It is deeply saddening that the people of Haiti, many of whom are still recovering from the effects of the earthquake that took over 200,000 lives just one decade ago, are once again devastated by disaster.
We are working with the teams there to assess the areas of need to help whatever we can and stand ready to offer additional support to the people of Haiti based on the findings of the team.
2010 Haiti Earthquake and the impact on the aid system
The earthquake in Haiti in 2010 was a turning point for the aid system and also for UK-Med. In January 2010, members of UK-Med were deployed on behalf of the Department for International Development (DFID) to respond to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. A rolling rota of over 70 surgeons, anaesthetists and emergency physicians and nurses worked in a field hospital set up to treat the injured. Over 600 major operations were carried out and over 7000 patients were treated over three and half months.
Haiti was a turning point. Over 400 humanitarian groups responded and although many were well-trained, some of the response was ad-hoc, poorly trained, ill-equipped and even dangerous. The international community was forced to re-think its response to global emergencies. Out of this tragedy, the WHO EMT initiative was born.
The EMT initiative was set up to improve coordination, the tasking of teams for time critical interventions, and ensure humanitarian responders were always professional, prepared, well-trained and fully accountable. UK-Med is the leading partner of the UK EMT (funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) and continues to answer calls for help across the world.