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Dr Virginia's story

A Haitian doctor on living through the earthquake and its aftermath

Recovering from a devastating earthquake

100,000+ killed|Cholera outbreaks|Need to rebuild

Haiti remains the poorest nation in the Americas, with 78 per cent of the population living on less than $2 a day. It is frequently struck by natural disasters leaving communities extremely vulnerable.

In 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people and caused widespread destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Months later, an outbreak of cholera killed hundreds and hospitalised thousands and remains a major health threat. Haiti is ill-equipped to deal with the aftermath of disasters and is heavily reliant on international assistance.

When the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010, International Medical Corps was on the ground providing emergency medical care and assistance within 22 hours, deploying around 400 medical volunteers to provide lifesaving care to Haitians. More than 16,000 people received care through our work at Haiti’s hospital. At the peak, our volunteer doctors and nurses saw as many as 1,000 patients a day while also training Haitian health workers.

We have continued to work in Haiti since the earthquake providing important medical care and responding to the ongoing cholera outbreak and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Vaccinations & disease: When cholera broke out in Haiti in 2010, we set up a network of 37 treatment centres and began running mobile medical units caring for tens of thousands of cholera patients within months. We trained and mentored more than 1,200 doctors, nurses and community health workers so our network of cholera centres could be staffed largely by local health professionals.

Water, sanitation & hygiene: Our focus on water and sanitation projects has laid the foundations necessary for Haiti to eradicate cholera in the long term through building latrines, handwashing stations and waste disposal systems across the country. In the communities where we work, International Medical Corps have set up an alert system and comprehensive treatment regime that is helping to reduce the number of cases and risk of death from cholera.

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