Haiti: Caring for the injured

Handicap International's logistics program, which consists of a fleet of 45 off-road trucks managed  in partnership with the World Food Program, resumed service 36 hours after the earthquake.

Just two days after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Handicap International restored its humanitarian aid deliveries to the destroyed neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince under the auspices of the World Food Program and the United Nations. The team also began to provide direct support for Haitians injured by the earthquake on Saturday in coordination with other emergency medical providers.

On Thursday, two trucks loaded with 1,200 liters of water and four tons of high-energy biscuits supplied by the World Food Program left Gonaives for Port-au-Prince. On Friday, eight additional trucks left Gonaives laden with fuel and water treatment equipment belonging to Action Against Hunger.

Twenty of the 45 off-road trucks managed by Handicap International will now make regular deliveries of priority goods, such as water, food and medication, to Port-au-Prince with security escorts coordinated by the United Nations. 

A physical therapist and two logisticians joined the Handicap International expatriate staff of five, and additional rehabilitation staff consisting of a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, two prosthetics/orthotics specialists, one occupational therapist and one physiotherapist, are scheduled to arrive next week from the United States and Canada. These volunteers from Healing Hands on Haiti International will be joining Handicap International's team for two weeks.

Handicap International's team began providing direct care to the injured on Saturday. Beginning Monday, following the recruitment of a dozen Haitian health staff, this care was extended to six hospitals in four districts of Port-au-Prince and in Carrefour and Carrefour Feuille, the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the surrounding area where most of the population lives.

In addition, the Belgian office of Handicap International sent two physiotherapists to Haiti on Monday. They will work with a team from Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium for two months, providing post-operative rehabilitation care for the injured, treating multiple traumas, fractures, amputations and spinal column and neurological injuries.

A ton of equipment, including wheelchairs, artificial limbs, corsets, walking frames, crutches and walking sticks, left Istres Airport in southern France 36 hours after the earthquake struck. These emergency medical supplies were distributed to hospitals on Monday. Early Tuesday morning, a second charter aircraft carrying a ton and a half of equipment departed from Vatry Airport in Reims, France, and is scheduled to arrive in Haiti Tuesday afternoon.  

Handicap International was able to provide a rapid response to the devastating earthquake that hit the country on January 12 because it has been present in the country since 2008, during which time it has been coordinating an interagency logistics program for the transport of humanitarian aid following the four hurricanes that hit the country in the summer of 2008. The priority now is the immediate management of the injured and preventing injuries from becoming permanent disabilities. To advance that work, Handicap International released $217,657 of its own general funds on January 13, and began immediately to expand its team in Haiti by bringing in much needed specialists to treat disabling injuries.   

*This page was modified with updated information on January 22, 2010.