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11 Days After Haiti’s Earthquake, Doctor Describes Lack of Treatment, Supplies & COVID-19 Concerns

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We go to Les Cayes, Haiti, to speak with a doctor about the conditions near the epicenter of the massive August 14 earthquake, as the death toll passes 2,200, with thousands of survivors growing increasingly desperate. Over 12,000 people were injured and an estimated 53,000 homes were destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude quake. People left unhoused have been living in squalid camps in the mountains north of the hard-hit city of Les Cayes, where children are reportedly suffering from hunger, fevers and infections. There is an acute lack of medical workers and humanitarian aid, says Dr. Chery Marie Anne-Lise, a general practitioner in Les Cayes who has been treating patients following the quake. “People need food. They need water. They need clothes,” says Anne-Lise.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we end today’s show in Haiti, where the death toll from the massive August 14th earthquake has passed 2,200, with thousands of survivors growing increasingly desperate. Over 12,000 were injured, estimated 53,000 homes destroyed, by the 7.2 magnitude quake. People left homeless have been living in squalid camps in the mountains north of the hard-hit city of Les Cayes, where they say children are suffering from hunger, fevers and infections.

EVELYA MICHELE: [translated] We are here with our children. I don’t know how many, but we need to feed them. We need food, water, dress. They are crying because they are hungry and thirsty. We need medication. And now we use this place as a shelter. Then we really need help to feed our children, ourselves.

AMY GOODMAN: UNICEF says 1.2 million people were affected by the earthquake, including over half a million children. Humanitarian aid workers say shipments are now flowing into Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, but there are still shortages of urgently needed food and medical supplies as Haiti is also facing an economic crisis made worse by the pandemic. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, July 7th, has pushed the country into further political uncertainty.

For more, we go to Haiti, where we’re joined in Les Cayes, not far from the quake’s epicenter, by Dr. Chery Marie Anne-Lise, a general practitioner. Her family is originally from Camp-Perrin, where most of them lost their homes during the quake. And in Port-au-Prince, we’re joined by Stéphane Vincent. He is a citizen journalist covering the aftermath of the earthquake for BBC in a piece headlined “The forgotten villages cut off from help.”

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Dr. Chery, let’s begin with you. Describe what is happening. You are right near the epicenter. You are a general practitioner in Les Cayes, so hard hit by COVID. You’ve been dealing with COVID patients. Now you’ve got the earthquake.

DR. CHERY MARIE ANNE-LISE: Good morning, Ma’am. So, yes, I am Dr. Chery Marie Anne-Lise. Where I am now, I am in Les Cayes. So, when the earthquake was happening, I was inside my house with my baby, run out and be hit by my car against a wall and fell down on the ground. And I have been — I have injury. So, I can see all my neighbors has panic. Everyone has panic, is panicking. So, this morning, as you can see, at 6:53 a.m., we had another replica, so all the people who were trying to sleep inside their house, they run out and been panicking. So, you can ask the question again, please?

AMY GOODMAN: Just tell us: What are the greatest needs and the injuries that you’re treating? Are you getting enough medical supplies? And do you have enough doctors and medical staff to help with those who are injured?

DR. CHERY MARIE ANNE-LISE: So, we need. We are a lack of doctors. So, in Les Cayes especially, we have not enough doctors to care of the patients. In pediatrics, how we are in the back place of the country, so we need doctors. People need food. They need water. They need clothes. OK? So, many of them have injury, have infection, wounds, so they don’t have anyone to care of them where they are. So, I can even see people trying to drink the well water during the earthquake.

AMY GOODMAN: And your family? Can you describe what’s happened to your own family as you try to help others?

DR. CHERY MARIE ANNE-LISE: OK. So, my own family, they are living at Camp-Perrin. So, where my grandma’s house fell down completely, I have — most of them lost their house. Me and my little baby has injured, because we were running out and hit by my car against the wall and fall on the ground, have injury. So, they are in need. They don’t have house to sleep. They are out. They don’t have tent at night. And when it’s raining, they don’t have nowhere instead to stay, where they are during the wind. OK? So they need food. They need clothes. They need medication in the hospital, too.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, are you concerned about other infections breaking out? And is COVID getting worse, the people you were treating before the earthquake, because of the vulnerability of the population right now?

DR. CHERY MARIE ANNE-LISE: So, you know, Haitian people go to see doctor when they are dying, OK? So, they try to make some tea, OK, to feel better at home. So, if they feel they are dying, they go to see the doctor. So, where I am working now, at Sanatorium in Les Cayes, with COVID-19 patients, I don’t really receive a lot of people to be inside the hospital, hospitalized, I can say that, to be hospitalized, OK? So, I find people who is sick, and I give them medication and advice to go at their house, OK, and quarantine. So, unfortunate — I don’t say — I can say, fortunately, I don’t receive a lot of COVID-19 patients where I am.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much, Dr. Chery Marie Anne-Lise, for joining us, general practitioner in Les Cayes, which is right near the epicenter of the earthquake.

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Next story from this daily show

Haiti’s Villages Continue to Be “Cut Off from Help” More Than a Week After Massive Earthquake

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