Doctors Without Borders Plane with Lifesaving Medical Supplies Diverted Again from Landing in Haiti

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Emily Linendoll
Press Officer
Direct: 212-763-5764
Mobile: 646-206-9387
E-mail: emily.linendoll@msf.org

Doctors Without Borders Plane with Lifesaving Medical Supplies Diverted Again from Landing in Haiti

Patients in Dire Need of Emergency Care Dying from Delays in Arrival of Medical Supplies

WASHINGTON - A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cargo plane
carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical
supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from
Port-au-Prince airport since Sunday night despite repeated assurances
of its ability to land there. This 12-ton cargo was part of the
contents of an earlier plane carrying a total of 40 tons of supplies
that was blocked from landing on Sunday morning. Since January 14, MSF
has had five planes diverted from the original destination of
Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic. These planes carried a total
of 85 tons of medical and relief supplies.

"We have had five patients in Martissant health center die for lack of
the medical supplies that this plane was carrying," said Loris de
Filippi, emergency coordinator for the MSF's Choscal Hospital in Cite
Soleil. "I have never seen anything like this. Any time I leave the
operating theater I see lots of people desperately asking to be taken
for surgery. Today, there are 12 people who need lifesaving amputations
at Choscal Hospital. We were forced to buy a saw in the market to
continue amputations. We are running against time here."

More than 500 patients in need of surgery have been transferred from
MSF health center in the Martissant neighborhood to Choscal Hospital
with more than 230 operated on since Thursday. MSF teams have been
working since the first hours after the earthquake and these cargo
shipments are vital to continue their ability to provide essential
medical care to victims of the disaster. In five different locations in
the city, MSF has given primary care to an estimated 3,000 people in
the capital and performed more than 400 surgeries.

"It is like working in a war situation," said Rosa Crestani, MSF
medical coordinator for Choscal Hospital. "We don't have any more
morphine to manage pain for our patients. We cannot accept that planes
carrying lifesaving medical supplies and equipment continue to be
turned away while our patients die. Priority must be given to medical
supplies entering the country."

Many of the patients have been pulled from the rubble of collapsed
buildings are at grave risk of death from septicemia and the
consequences of "crush syndrome," a condition where damaged muscle
tissue releases toxins into the bloodstream and can lead to death from
kidney failure. Dialysis machines are vital to keeping patients alive
with this condition.

Another two planes carrying a total of 26 MSF aid workers were diverted
to Dominican Republic. MSF has successfully landed five planes with a
total of 135 tons of supplies into Port-au-Prince. Another 195 tons of
supplies will need to be granted permission to land in the airport in
the coming days in order to continue MSF's scale up of its medical
relief operation in Haiti.

More than 700 MSF staff are working to provide emergency medical care
to earthquake survivors in and around Port-au-Prince. MSF teams are
currently working in Choscal Hospital, Martissant Health Center,
Trinite Hospital, Carrefour hospital, Jacmel Hospital, and are
establishing a 100-bed inflatable hospital in the Delmas area. They are
running exploratory assessment missions to other locations outside the
capital as well.

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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF's work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.

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