Doctors Without Borders Plane Not Allowed to Land in Haiti

 Press release from Doctors Without Borders 

(editors note – the U.S. military took over control of the airport at Port-au-Prince within hours of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. BBC news reports today that at least 2,000 more U.S. marines have landed in Haiti to provide “security”.
Yet a plane filled with desperately needed medical supplies was turned away Sunday and forced to land in the Dominican Republic – it could take days for the medical supplies on this plane to reach Haiti, at a time when every minute counts in saving lives. The following statements on this situation are from Doctors Without Borders.)
The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) plane filled with supplies needed to establish an inflatable tent field hospital landed at approximately 11 am local time, Sunday, January 17, in Port-au-Prince.
However, another MSF cargo plane carrying vital medical supplies to replenish stocks for Choscal hospital, where an MSF team is working on a backlog of patients needing surgery, was not allowed to land in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, January 17, and was forced to re-route to the Dominican Republic, where it landed. Choscal hospital will run out of medical supplies in less than 24 hours and its cold chain system for preserving medicines and vaccines at the proper temperatures could be compromised if this cargo plane is not able to fly into Port-au-Prince immediately.
More than 500 patients in need of surgery have been transferred from Martissant to Choscal hospital in Cite Soleil. MSF teams are focusing on lifesaving surgery (open wounds, fractures, burns, amputations, and emergency obstetrics). They’ve been working around the clock and have done more than 90 surgeries since the operating theater became functional. Priority is given to lifesaving interventions, such as amputations carried out on patients with gangrene triggered by infected wounds.
Port-au-Prince/Paris /New York, 17 January 2009—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel.
Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.
A second MSF plane is currently on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10 am local time with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital. If this plane is also rerouted then the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life saving treatment.
The inflatable hospital includes 2 operating theaters, an intensive care unit, 100-bed hospitalization capacity, an emergency room and all the necessary equipment needed for sterilizing material.
MSF teams are currently working around the clock in 5 different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, but only 2 operating theaters are fully functional, while a third operating theater has been improvised for minor surgery due to the massive influx of wounded and lack of functional referral structures.
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