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Haiti: Health workers fear disease setting in as slow earthquake response impedes healing

Some injured babies at area hospitals have trouble breathing after getting wet and spending the night under heavy winds. Older residents are also walking into health facilities suffering respiratory problems such as asthma. Thousands left homeless are sleeping in crowded tents and under canopies, at risk of contracting diseases, including COVID-19. 

“Everything [illnesses] can get worse,” said Jean Vionel Caton, administrator of OFATMA Hospital in Les Cayes, a city in the Southern department. “When people ask me ‘How are you?’ I can’t say the usual ‘I’m good.’ The earthquake caused so much chaos.”

At least 12,000 people were injured after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s southwest region the morning of Aug. 14. Then, Tropical Storm Grace passed through Monday night, dumping between 5 to 15 inches of rain across the South. 

The scores of health workers who have responded so far, with limited medical supplies and insufficient facilities, are feeling the pressure after days and days without proper reinforcements in either staffing or supplies.

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