Real Medicine in Haiti: 6 months later and beyond

July 12, 2010

By Alex Areces and Jonathan White

As we pause to mark the somber six month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti and the 230,000 lives lost, it is worth noting not only the significant achievements of the international aid community but also how dire the situation remains and the immense challenges that lie ahead.  Most of the 1.5 million Haitians that were left homeless are still living in the immense tent cities due to sheer scale of the logistical and legal challenges of rebuilding literally hundreds of buildings on mostly private property. The health care system is still in tatters, and struggling to keep up with the contstant flow of new patients from these tent cities.  Much of the money raised in the initial weeks for rebuilding is still sitting on the sidelines with no clear way to spend it.   With no easy solutions on the horizon to re-house this immense displaced population the repairing and re-growth of the health and education systems are more important than ever.  Knowing that it will take many more months for any kind of progress on the resettlement of these people living in tent cities, RMF is committed more than ever to concentrating on the rebuilding of a sustainable health care system to care for this immense displaced population.

The living conditions in many of these tent cities with rubble everywhere, limited sanitation options, and very little protection from the heavy rains common this time of year presents a variety of hazards for these people every day, resulting in multiple injuries and deaths.  Little Chon Oxius, 11 months old, is one of them, and a few weeks ago he came to see Dr. Margaret Degand, RMF’s partner doctor at the Lambert Santé Hospital’s free clinic, with severe burn trauma complications.

Dr. Degand or “Maggie”, as she is fondly referred to is Lambert’s Santé’s Medical Director and founder and one of nation’s top clinicians and plastic surgeon.  Dr. Degand spontaneously opened her private surgical clinic in Pétion-Ville to all the victims of the quake at no cost working tirelessly around the clock for days and weeks to hundreds that came to her clinic desperate for emergency care.   With continued financial support and volunteer assistance, she has been managing to keep her public clinic open. She shares RMF’s vision to increase the overall quality and accessibility of patient care to the public during this crisis. In May 2010, Maggie entered into official partnership with RMF to continue offering Public Care.

Continue reading