At the one hospital in Jeremie in southwest Haiti, nurses and doctors treat patients in the two out of four departments still open in the hospital since the hurricane hit.
One of them is the maternity ward, and this is at least one good piece of news.
“Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable after disasters. A caesarean is something that can’t wait, and these are some of the first surgeries to be done in an emergency,” says Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell.
Redwood-Campbell is part of the international Red Cross assessment and coordination team sent to support the Haitian Red Cross with the emergency response operation. She’s looking at how the Red Cross can best help with health needs post-hurricane.
But health needs aren’t the only concern.
In Jeremie there’s still no safe drinking water and an urgent need for shelter and food.
The Red Cross sent teams of volunteers and staff to Jeremie before the hurricane to help people prepare. Stephane de Rengervé, who works in Port-au-Prince, was part of this team.
“When I felt the violence of the hurricane, I knew it was going to be really bad,” says de Rengervé.
The Red Cross was out assessing the damage very early the next morning. “We’ve been distributing materials that were pre-positioned, like kits to help people build shelters,” says de Rengervé.
At the weekend, 30 Red Cross volunteers helped the UN distribute its first food rations. It hasn’t been easy to get relief into Jeremie, with many roads blocked off. The only way into Jeremie has been by helicopter or boat, but roads are now slowly beginning to reopen. This will make getting assistance into towns like Jeremie much easier.
The Red Cross will support people repair their homes or build emergency shelters. It will also support people with first aid and emergency health care, psychosocial support, water treatment, sanitation assistance, cleaning and personal hygiene items, mosquito nets and other disease prevention and control activities. Supplies have already begun to arrive in country and are on their way to affected communities.
“Our biggest concern right now is that the world will forget about this,” says Stephen McAndrew, head of emergency operations for the Red Cross Matthew response.