Yesterday we reported on an inspirational news story involving a Doctors Without Borders cargo plane full of medicine that was blocked by the U.S. military from landing at Port-au-Prince airport. The group sent out a barrage of tweets about the blockage, and the public responded by bombarding the U.S. Air Force’s Twitter account with waves of tweets demanding that the plane be allowed to land. Less than an hour later, the plane was on the tarmac and a second was on the way.
But in a Tuesday press release issued by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), we were stunned to discover that yet another cargo plane carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport despite repeated assurances to land.
“We have had five patients in Martissant health center die for lack of the medical supplies that this plane was carrying,” said Loris de Filippi, emergency coordinator for the MSF’s Choscal Hospital in Cite Soleil. “I have never seen anything like this. Any time I leave the operating theater I see lots of people desperately asking to be taken for surgery. Today, there are 12 people who need lifesaving amputations at Choscal Hospital. We were forced to buy a saw in the market to continue amputations. We are running against time here.”
We applaud the many contributions made on behalf of the U.S. military but the situation for Haitians barely clinging to life is desperate: “Every time we go out of the operating theater,” says Filippi, “we see faces imploring us for treatment. And they are begging us there in front of the hospital. It’s a very unacceptable situation…we need supplies to get to the airport—and we don’t know why the planes are being re-directed.”
MSF has successfully landed five planes with a total of 135 tons of supplies into Port-au-Prince. Another 195 tons of supplies will need to be granted permission to land in the airport in the coming days in order to continue MSF’s scale up of its medical relief operation in Haiti. To those of you with a Twitter account, you can Tweet your concern to the White House here.
We really need for all the organizations that are trying to help to speak to each other so that they can maximize their efforts to be truly effective in helping.
Want to help, below are links to reputable organizations that are involved in helping.
The American Red Cross www.redcross.org
Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 (billed to your phone)
The United Nations World Food Program www.wfp.org
The Salvation Army www.salvationarmyusa.org
Action Against Hunger www.actionagainsthunger.org
Project HOPE www.projecthope.org
Partners in Health www.pih.org
January 20th, 2010