News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. May 6, 2020: The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, has expressed her particular concern for Haiti in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and warned of the dangers of a large-scale outbreak in that country.
Although the country has reported only 100 cases, there are already 17,000 Haitians who have returned from the Dominican Republic, where there is community transmission, and this number is expected to reach 55,000 in two weeks.
“We are especially worried about Haiti and I wish to sound the alarm of an impending humanitarian crisis,” said the PAHO Director in a briefing with journalists Tuesday.
She also described the situation as “a perfect storm approaching” and highlighted the limited capacity of the Haitian health system.
“There are few beds for treating COVID-19, insufficient numbers of health professionals and insufficient personal protective equipment,” she said. “The security of the COVID-19 designated hospitals and the safety of community health workers is of great concern,” Dr. Etienne said.
The PAHO Director also noted that most Haitians do not have access to clean water and sanitation, and “many live in overcrowded households where quarantine and isolation are challenging.”
In addition, “there is a real risk that growing good insecurity will result in famine. Civil unrest, a difficult political situation and precarious security may further complicate the situation,” she added.
PAHO is urgently working with Haitian health authorities and other partners to strengthen preparations, including organization of health services, laboratory tests, and the availability of personal protective equipment, as well as training health workers to care for patients with COVID-19.
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