Red Cross brings medical team to isolated villages hit by Hurricane Matthew

Topics: Americas, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
By France Hurtubise | November 01, 2016

Emilie Gauthier-Paré

Canadian Red Cross psychosocial support delegate Emilie Gauthier-Paré speaking to people in the community of Mouline who have been traumatized by Hurricane Matthew. Photo: Nicole Robicheau / IFRC

It is early morning in Moline, a very isolated village in the mountains of southwestern Haiti, and a line of people are waiting to be treated at the Red Cross mobile clinic. 

“Our aim is to reach the segment of the Haitian population in this area of the country who were affected by the Hurricane, and who do not presently have access to health services,” explains Jason Creaghan, a doctor with the Canadian Red Cross doctor who is working at the clinic.  “Villages are chosen in relation to their remoteness, lack of local health services, and being cut-off from centres where health services are provided,” he continues.

The Canadian Red Cross runs the mobile clinic with the support of the Government of Canada, which deploys around the world during major emergencies. Most recently, it was operating in Ecuador following a recent earthquake. On Friday, the clinic went to the village of Mouline in Beaumont, where a total of 167 people were treated from minor conditions such as pneumonia, muscular lesions and infected wounds.

“Patients are showing obvious signs of stress, resulting from their ordeal, and which may contribute to a weakened immune response,” Jason explains.

Dr. Jason Creaghan

Dr. Jason Creaghan Photo: Nicole Robicheau / IFRC

The Red Cross medical unit includes a team leader, two medical doctors, two nurses, an expert in psychosocial support, and another in community health. All are from the Canadian and French Red Cross. Their mission is carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health and the Haitian Red Cross.

The mobile nature and quick positioning of the clinic allows the Red Cross to provide emergency health services to communities that are isolated and where institutional clinics have been crippled or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.

In Moline, Haitian Red Cross volunteers and the team’s community health leader met with groups of people to raise awareness on the health risks of cholera. Emilie Gauthier-Paré, an expert in psychosocial support from the Canadian Red Cross, provided essential comfort to people traumatized from the hurricane.

“Many of these people have seen their belongings, their crops and their homes disappear under their very eyes,” she explains. “Their entire lives have changed overnight, and it is extremely difficult to cope with,” says Emilie.

In order to best serve the Haitian people and to prevent overlap, the travel schedule of the Red Cross clinic is drawn in coordination with local health services providers and the Ministry of Public Health. On Saturday the medical team treated another 151 people, and it will continue to to the village of Fond d'Icaque, in the commune of Corail, on Sunday.

“Wherever the clinic goes, the line-up of awaiting patients shows the extent of the damage and the depth of the survivors who are coping with the destruction caused by this recent disaster,” says Emilie.