When the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, Zanmi Lasante was uniquely positioned both to provide emergency care and to help develop and implement plans for long-term reconstruction. ZL provided life-saving care to thousands of injured people, opened clinics to serve more than 100,000 people in four spontaneous settlement camps, and launched a $125-million plan to help rebuild Haiti's public health and health education systems.
Highlights from the response:
In the first hours after the earthquake, Zanmi Lasante took immediate action to provide emergency medical care to earthquake victims both in Port-au-Prince and at our facilities in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite. ZL medical and engineering staff arrived at the badly damaged general hospital in Port-au-Prince just after the quake, where they helped restore electricity, deployed volunteer surgical teams and urgently needed supplies, and worked with partners to get 12 operating rooms up and running around the clock.
As thousands of injured people fled the ruined capital, ZL opened up new emergency wards and brought in volunteer orthopedic teams to help perform emergency surgeries at four of our largest facilities in central Haiti. In the first four weeks after the earthquake, these facilities delivered life-saving medical care to 2,961 patients with earthquake-related injuries.
Just two weeks after the earthquake, ZL set up health clinics to serve over 100,000 displaced people living in four spontaneous settlement camps around Port-au-Prince. ZL's clinics provide comprehensive primary health care and social support services — including maternal and child health, reproductive care, HIV and TB testing, mental health care, and malnutrition treatment — to roughly 10,000 people each week.
Each clinic is staffed by a team of Haitian physicians, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, and lab technicians. ZL also trained and hired local residents to serve as community health workers at each location, improving outreach into the settlements and providing jobs and income.
Many of the more than 300,000 people wounded by the earthquake suffered crush wounds, compound fractures, spinal injuries and other severe injuries that will require ongoing and specialized rehabilitation. Tens of thousands more were scarred emotionally by the loss of family members and friends, homes and livelihoods. To meet their needs, ZL more than doubled the size of our rehabilitative medicine and mental health teams. By the end of June, the physical therapy team had distributed 400 wheelchairs and was providing care to 50 people with amputations. The mental health and psychosocial support team had offered more than 4,200 support services in spontaneous settlements, including psycho-education, counseling, and individual and group therapy.
In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, PIH/ZL is building a world-class, 320-bed teaching hospital in Mirebalais. The new hospital will train the next generation of Haitian doctors, nurses, and lab technicians, equipping them to take on the challenges of rebuilding and strengthening the Haitian health care system. When its doors open in late 2011, the Mirebalais hospital will be Haiti's largest public hospital outside Port-au-Prince. It will house clinical facilities not currently available in Haiti, including an intensive care unit and six operating rooms, and will contribute to the national goal of decentralizing services, including both clinical care and education for health professionals.
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