July 12th, 2010
01:26 PM ET

Hospitals in Haiti to be shut down due to lack of funds

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Program Note: Six months after the earthquake in Haiti, are things any better? Anderson Cooper returns to Haiti with exclusive interviews with former President Bill Clinton and actor Sean Penn. Don't miss 'AC360' tonight at 10 ET, only on CNN.

It was hard to know what to expect a half-year after the Haiti earthquakes. Driving through the town of Port Au Prince a few days ago, rubble seemed to have been merely swept off the streets, and into alleyways. Debris and garbage had simply shifted around the city, more out of sight, but still present. It was like a college kid, knowing his parents were coming to visit, sweeping things under the rug and throwing things into closets. Things were frighteningly familiar.

I looked out the window, expecting to see the most awful and indelible images that I remembered during the first days after the earthquake. The bodies stacked high, in front of homes with parents searching frantically for a place for their dead children. At that time, children were seen everywhere, doing the same for their deceased parents. Thankfully, those images are for the most part gone.

Editor's Note: The video below was shot in Bernard Mevs Hospital in Haiti.

In medicine, we think of things in the acute phase: stop the bleeding. The intermediate phase: recovery and follow up. And, in the chronic phase, it is about rehabilitation and building up. The acute phase is coming to an end, but without adequate resources and money, the intermediate phase will never happen. Talking to large relief organizations, it seems they are planning for the long-term chronic rehabilitation of the country, which may explain why only a small percentage of the money donated has actually been put to use. (see the breakdown here by organization). The concern, though, is that rehabilitation cannot happen, unless the resources are there to let the patients, and the country adequately recover.

For a while, there was a venting of compassion. At General hospital, the largest public hospital in Haiti, there was at one point too many doctors and too many supplies. People saw the need, and they opened their pocket books and booked their flights. I was often asked, "what can I do to help?" I said "wait 6 months, because too many people will forget, yet the need will still be there." When I visited General hospital yesterday, there was hardly anything happening there. The operating tables that were donated looked desolate, and the rooms were empty. A handful of diligent Haitian nurses, who haven't been paid in months, were trying to do the best they could with hardly any resources.

The largest private hospital in the city, which serviced the small percentage of Haitians that could pay for their health care, has chains on the doors and is shut down for business. Six months later, the need is still here, and in many ways, things are worse than ever.

It is true that clean water now exists in many places, and the predicted widespread outbreak of disease hasn't happened. There are food distribution stations in many of the larger camps, and even schools that are starting up this summer. It is also true that many amputees are now walking around the rough roads of Port Au Prince with newly obtained prosthetic legs. But, too much has remained the same.

I saw a 6 month old girl, born just before the earthquake, who lay dying at Bernard Mevs hospital. She developed an infection, that untreated, turned into meningitis. Her head became large, as fluid had started to build up inside her brain, a condition known as hydrocephalus. She didn't receive antibiotics in time, and now she was beyond treatment. The same stupid story. Six months later. Needless deaths, despite the generosity of millions all over the world.

Filed under: Haiti Earthquake • Sanjay Gupta
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Joe

    OK, since nobody else is going to say it, I will. We've got enough problems in this country right now down in the Gulf. Just once can't America focus on itself without having to take care of the rest of the world too? Hey Sean Penn, have you been to Louisana lately???

    July 13, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  2. Jennifer

    it annoys me so much when people spout opinions without actually reading the report. Dr. Gupta specifically says that the large organizations are allocating a lot of funds towards rebuilding the country. Also, most relief organizations don't get to put funds towards keeping hospitals open – they have regulations about how the donated money can be spent, like towards food/shelter/etc. what's more important, that a hospital stay open or that the population is kept fed, sheltered and drinking clean water????

    Yeah, millions have been donated, but Haiti is an ENTIRE COUNTRY that has to be rebuilt. Millions aren't going to cut it, first of all, more like BILLIONS. Plus, something like keeping hospitals open is the purview of the government. Money has been flooding into Haiti – or did half of you not read the parts about the improvements Dr. Gupta's seen? But there's still a lot to be done. If you have a couple billion to spare, go ahead and spend it, but otherwise just remember that something like this doesn't have a quick fix.

    July 13, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  3. J. Roger

    What happened to all those millions donated for weeks after the disaster hit?

    July 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  4. Dorothy

    Moderator-my posts never get put up. How is it that you pick and choose only whats in your court and if an opinion differs from you-you don't post? That causes a not-true representation of the opinions of "all". My posts are never vile or inappropriate. What's the deal!!!!???

    July 12, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  5. Jason

    I can't believe you people actually think places like Haiti can be fixed from the outside.

    July 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  6. Diana

    The problem is not in Haiti itself. Its all the countries that said they were donating millions and billions when it happened... and they have not followed thru. As my husbands family lives in Haiti we watch this closely. So many places plegded support right after it happened but then fail to follow thru with the pledges. This happens everywhere where there are national tragedies. Sometimes its years if ever before the pledges are actually made good on. Don't blame the missing funds on the Haitians or the current government, Look to the countires that pledged it for answers.

    July 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  7. Saxoney

    Come on Celebrities, stop spending it on unecessary things and donate a big lump sum, it's uncalled for. Save these people !!!

    Where you at !?

    July 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  8. steve white

    Someone should be held accoutable for the money sent to Haiti just from US along was millions. Something wrong with this picture

    July 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  9. Lisa in Louisville

    Why is this stupid death still happening? It's heartbreaking. Can't the Hatian government ask someone to coordinate all of the aid organizations and the government (what little there is) to get aid to the right places? The people of Haiti have been in my thoughts and prayers for the past six months. I'm very happy that CNN thinks this story is still important and is keeping it in front of us. I wish I could help in some way other than sending a few dollars every month.

    God bless you, Anderson, and the rest of the CNN crew.

    July 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Jaya Santhan Tony

    Truly a sad story....and the fact is probably that the money received through the generosity and kindness of many around the world was unaccountably spent or even pilfered....Another example of how charitable donations should have clear accountability reports...even now a million dollars can go a long way if it is spent correctly....

    July 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  11. shura

    How and Why? If this was America, would it be different? How can it be that Haiti is still@square one? Is it because they were already behind the 8 ball on so many levels and infrastructure substandard? What is the next step? How many hands are stirring the pots preventing forward motion...if the world fails again, we all fail..this is a human issue..not just a country issue..what can the everyday person do to help.mdo we donate more? Do we go to Haiti...what is the approach..

    July 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  12. silkphoenix

    So, People donate more than a billion of dollars to Haiti to help them out, and hospitals have to shut down because lack of funds? What happened to all the donations, why were they not used? This sure discourage anyone to donate money in any future disaster.

    July 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  13. Ginger Blymyer

    My heart is still with the Haitians and it makes me sick that things are going on as they have for is it two hundred years. We all sent our money so things could change.
    I hope all of you with CNN and Bill Clinton can make the difference. Here we have all the unemployment in the USA the workers could be there doing what needs to be done. I saw where the President said they are preparing for the hurricane season. Well those tents will do no good when a storm hits. What is possible, can you and those in the USA with power go in with big machines and start the clean up. The fung shui of the city is dead with all the rubble. Nothing really can flow. Thanks so much for doing this.

    July 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  14. Cindy

    They are shutting down the hospitals for lack of funds!? Where in the hell is all of that money that was donated to Haiti!? Has the government gotten it and squandered it too? How ridiculous is this?

    I did hear Anderson say that the countries who pledged money are not sending it like they should. They need to get on the stick and get to moving. There is no sense in lying about helping to look good and then doing absolutely nothing once the cameras are off of you. Anderson and Sanjay need to find out which countries haven't given their money and call them out on it.

    There is no sense in hospitals having to close down when so much money was raised for Haiti. We need to find out where they money is.


    July 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.