UNICEF Delivering the Goods in Haiti
Port-au-Prince, 3 February 2010 – Just a short drive away from the Port-au-Prince airport, UNICEF operates a supply hub from which it distributes high volumes of lifesaving materials for children and families to earthquake-affected areas each day. These include safe drinking water, emergency family kits, jerry cans and bladder tanks, medical supplies and early childhood development kits to name just a few.
Today, we followed the journey of some of those items from warehouse to truck to field hospital to patient.
The journey began late in the morning when Dr. Alfredo Mercado and Dr. Labib Syed of the Islamic Medical Association North America’s (IMANA) emergency relief team arrived at the UNICEF facility to pick up medical supplies. The UNICEF team loaded the truck with 450 cartons of oral rehydration salts to treat dehydration along with multiple obstetric gynecologic kits. The shipment was destined for IMANA’s field hospital where 16 doctors provide medical care free of charge to more than 300 patients (more than half of whom are children) each day.
Accompanying the truck, we arrived at a fully functional field hospital complete with dedicated facilities for outpatient treatment, emergency care, surgical suite, and preventive medicine and education. The IMANA team has been on the ground providing medical care since 48 hours after the January 12 earthquake.
After unloading the truck, Drs. Mercado and Syed explained that they were depending on UNICEF to provide many of the lifesaving medical supplies they have been using to treat a host of injuries and illnesses for children including trauma fractures and cuts, infections, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition. In cases where children have been suffering from severe diarrhea and dehydration, for example, the IMANA team has been relying on oral rehydration salts provided by UNICEF to nurse their bodies back to health.
Later in the visit, Drs. Mercado and Syed introduced us to a young woman who had given birth to a baby girl at the hospital the day before. In this case, doctors were using a UNICEF emergency obstetric gynecologic kit to keep the mother and infant healthy before, during and immediately after the delivery. At the time of our visit, mother and child were both healthy and content.
Dr. Syed explained that partner NGOs like IMANA depend on the supply reach and capacity of UNICEF to provide them with many of the tools they need to do their job during an emergency. Likewise, UNICEF depends on its partners to help reach every child and family in need during a disaster such as this.
UNICEF is now working with dozens of partners across multiple sectors in Haiti including child health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection. Given the scale of the disaster, these partnerships are essential for ensuring that lifesaving supplies and services are delivered to the children and families who need them most.