Port-au-Prince, Mar 17 (EFE).- Mountains of rubbish, and children and other patients waiting for essential health care is the reality at Haiti’s largest hospital due to a support staff strike.
This situation at the State University of Haiti Hospital, most frequented by the poor population, comes amid inflation and a rise in kidnappings and insecurity in the country, with several doctors killed or kidnapped.
The strike was called by the Union of Health Workers, hospital employees and the National Federation of Health Workers to demand better working conditions and a salary adjustment up to 60,000 gourdes, since the employees cannot live on the current wage due to rising cost of living.
Haitian media has reported that patients have died during this strike of nearly 30 days, and that it has completely paralyzed the center widely known as General Hospital, located in the heart of Port-au-Prince, a few kilometers of the National Palace.
The situation has worsened because although the doctors are not on strike, they do not go to the hospital because they don’t have the help of nurses, admin staff and other workers.
Clerose Clermont is from Jean Rabel, in the Nordeste department, one of the poorest regions of the country. She has been at the hospital for at least six months with her daughter suffering from a bone infection.
“My daughter was operated twice by the doctor, who promised to perform a third operation. Suddenly, the hospital went on strike. We can’t find any doctor. I am the one who dresses my daughter. I am the one who takes care of her, because I saw how the doctors do it,” she told Efe.
Clermont added that she thought they would be asked to leave. She has no financial resources left.
“All my money is gone. My daughter no longer has medicine and I can’t buy it,” she said.
Wearing a black dress and a with suitcase next to her, hospital worker Solange Etienne explains how the health center works.
“I work in the operating rooms. There are days when I can’t find anything to wash the instruments. Sometimes I use disinfectant to do it and prevent patients from getting infected,” she told Efe.
She said that this is a popular hospital and that many people have nowhere else to go for treatment.
“This is a hospital that people go to. It belongs to the Haitians. There are no materials. There is nothing. To come here, we pay for transportation. Before, they provided us with transportation, but now there is none,” she said.
In passing, she said that she has not yet received her salary, and added that the employees receive a very low wage.
“I have been working in the General Hospital for 36 years, but I receive 10,000 gourdes ($95) as a salary,” she lamented.
“The strike will not be lifted if they don’t give us what we demand,” she insisted, to denounce the lack of essential items such as disinfectants. “We ask the Ministry of Health to urgently send medicines to the hospital.”
Part of the hospital was heavily damaged in the January 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless. Its reconstruction began around 2011 and has not been completed.
Meanwhile, the Haitian Medical Association ended a three-day national strike protesting the kidnappings of doctors. EFE