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Widespread Health Impacts Imminent After Haiti’s 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Leaves Parts of the Island in Ruins

Project HOPE is deploying an Emergency Response Team, fearing the worst in comparison to 2010 impacts and ready to assess urgent medical needs

Washington, D.C. (August 14, 2021) – Following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit southwest Haiti on Saturday morning, Project HOPE is deploying members of its emergency preparedness and response team to assess the impacts on health facilities and identify the most urgent medical needs of affected populations.

The team will partner with local organizations for emergency response and offer immediate assistance through the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and health kits, while prepping for logistical and access challenges due to significant damage to roads and buildings.

Affected areas of Les Cayes and Jeremie, hit in the past by natural disasters, have already reported major devastation and hospitals overwhelmed with wounded victims. Footage from local Haitians cites people trapped under the rubble of their houses.

“This earthquake is yet another crisis — among many others — that Haiti is facing. We fear the worst as we think of the 2010 earthquake Haiti suffered,” says Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at Project HOPE. “There are a lot of reasons to be concerned right now, especially as most Haitians have yet to be vaccinated and COVID-19 could now spread even faster as people flee and gather on displacement sites. Medical facilities and ambulance services were scarce even before the earthquake, with the majority of Haitians unable to afford medical services. Supporting local health care personnel and emergency first responders will be crucial to save as many lives as possible.”

Any COVID-19 vaccination efforts could be impeded as many areas become inaccessible. Haiti has been among the last countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines with its first mass vaccination campaign starting only in July for health care workers and individuals over 65.

The earthquake is also going to aggravate the living conditions of millions of Haitians already suffering from poverty. About 60 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

Project HOPE has worked to support the people of Haiti since the 1980s, including through programs in maternal and child health. In response to the devastating earthquake in 2010, Project HOPE sent medical supplies and highly skilled medical volunteers to serve on the USNS Comfort. The floating Navy hospital ship was the main referral hospital in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, receiving complex cases from field hospitals on shore. Following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Project HOPE also sent a disaster relief team to work with the government to address the crucial health needs of affected people.

About Project HOPE
With the mission to place power in the hands of local health workers to save lives around the world, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries. Founded in 1958, we work side-by-side with local health systems to improve health and support community resilience. We work at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal and child health; pandemic preparedness and response; mental health for health workers; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.

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