July 8th, 2010
02:08 PM ET

Haiti health care improving, still dicey

Access to health care has improved in Haiti, but the everyday situation remains precarious for thousands of Haitians nearly six months after a devastating earthquake struck the country, according to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The medical humanitarian organization released a report on Thursday, outlining its response to the disaster and current living conditions for Haitians.

The country is in need of permanent structures to deliver health care, says Dr. Hans van Dillen, a head of mission for MSF. 60 percent of the country’s hospitals collapsed during the earthquake and many health care workers were killed, injured or fled the country according to the report. So far, doctors and nurses have been providing medical care out of tents and other semi-permanent facilities while the Ministry of Health works to rebuild the country’s medical infrastructure.

“Although access to health care has improved thanks to the response of the international community, we are far from finished in terms of rebuilding the infrastructure,” says van Dillen. “We still need a few years.”

The organization says it continues to provide medical services such as postoperative care, maternity services and psychosocial support to thousands of Haitians. However the threat of hurricanes looms and van Dillen says health officials are concerned that if a hurricane were to strike this country the aftermath could trigger outbreaks of infectious disease, which the medical community has successfully combated so far.

Although access to health care has improved for many, van Dillen notes the living conditions of Haitians remain as dire as they were in the weeks following the earthquake. The population still needs shelter, water and medical care. MSF has treated nearly 174,000 patients so far and distributed 27,000 tents to the homeless. Therefore, van Dillen says, the MSF staff plans to remain in the country for a minimum of two more years. “We feel our presence will still be needed,” he says.

Editor's note: Dr. Gupta returns to Haiti next week.  Watch for his reports on CNN.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Augsbee

    This so heartbreaking and Hurricane season is here.

    July 8, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Odalice Feliz

    It is so heartbreaking, I hope they get all the help they need....and to bad is hurricane season already!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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