The largest public hospital in Haiti is paralyzed by a strike

Mountains of garbage, children and other patients abandoned to their fate and complete oblivion mixed with the smell of death is the reality presented by the Haiti State University Hospital (HUEH), the largest in the country, due to the strike of the health center support staff.

This situation of desolation is installed in the hospital center most frequented by the poor population, in a context marked by inflation, the multiplication of cases of kidnapping and the increase in the climate of insecurity in the country, during which several doctors have been killed and kidnapped.

Haitian media reports that patients have died during this long strike, which is approaching 30 days, and that it has completely paralyzed the health 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 the doctors, although they are not on strike, do not go to the hospital because they do not have the help of nurses, stretcher bearers and office workers, among other employees.

MAKE THE BANDAGE INSTEAD OF THE DOCTOR

Clerose Clermont is from Jean Rabel, in the Nordeste department, one of the poorest regions of the country. She has been admitted to the State University Hospital of Haiti for at least six months with her daughter suffering from a bone infection.

"My daughter was operated on twice by the doctor, who promised to perform a third. Suddenly, the hospital went on strike. We can’t find a doctor. I’m the one who saw my daughter. I’m the one who takes things off of her, because I could see how the doctors do it"the woman told Efe.

Clermont added that he thought they would be asked to leave. He has no financial resources left. His daughter had spent 19 days on oxygen in the hospital’s pediatric ward. Only after an X-ray was it discovered that she had a bone infection.

"All my money is gone. My daughter no longer has medicines and I cannot buy them"complained saying that he wants to return to his home in Jean Rabel. "Due to insecurity, I do not receive visits from any of my relatives".

Clerose Clermont becomes a doctor, takes care of her daughter, heals her wounds. She doesn’t want to see the children suffer. She doesn’t want to see her daughter’s wounds rot and release liquid. It is the same case of several other families desperate for the help of a doctor during this strike.

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STRIKE TO IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS

Hospital support staff went on strike to demand better working conditions, payment of several months of back wages, and a salary increase.

Wearing a black dress and a suitcase at her side, Solange Etienne, a hospital employee, 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"affirmed to Efe.

He assured that this is a popular hospital and that people have no other place to go for treatment. In passing, he reminds us that he has not yet received his salary.

"This is a hospital where people go. It belongs to the Haitians. There are no materials. There is nothing. To come here, we pay for transportation. They used to provide us with transportation, but now there is no"said this woman.

Etienne added that the employees receive a poverty wage.

"I have been working in the general hospital for 36 years, but I receive 10,000 gourdes ($95) as salary. It’s not possible"he lamented.

"The strike will not be lifted if they do not give us what we demand"he stressed, to denounce the lack of elements as essential as chlorine and detergents.

"We ask the Ministry of Health to urgently send medicines to the hospital"he cried.

A HOSPITAL ETERNALLY UNDER RECONSTRUCTION

Not a year goes by without the hospital going on strike. When it’s not the doctors, it’s the support staff.

Part of the site was heavily damaged in the January 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless. The reconstruction of the hospital began around 2011 and has not been completed since then.

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 with the current wage due to rising cost of living.

On the other hand, the Haitian Medical Association (AMH) ended a three-day strike throughout the country to protest the kidnappings of Haitian doctors.

"Given the inability of the state authorities, we need a true citizen awakening and a mobilization of all layers of our society to make this wave of insecurity programmed in the laboratory of shame disappear from our horizon."said the AMH and its affiliated associations in a document.

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