By Milo Milfort |
The beds are in a sorry state, the blackouts are practically daily, there is garbage everywhere and the smell is nauseating.
An abandonment that is mixed with a strike by its resident doctors that is already three months old.
A hospital practically paralyzed
Strikes in the HUEH are not new. At least in the last decade, not a year goes by without the center experiencing two or three protests. At the moment, it is the resident doctors who have supported the strike since last December.
“It is a catastrophic situation. The hospital is stopped, it doesn’t work. It is a field in ruins”, the director of the HUEH, Dr. Jude Milcé, tells EFE, who affirms that only one or two services are working and there is not even an emergency unit, despite the fact that this is required by law in the event of a strike.
Milcé acknowledges that the demands are “fair”: the salary of a resident doctor amounts to 12,500 gourdes a month (about 80 dollars), not enough to eat for a week in the midst of an acute socioeconomic crisis marked by inflation and the devaluation of the local currency.
In the opinion of Dr. Mackendy Jacques, “the residents are the lungs of the hospital in terms of service”, they are the base, and, if they are on strike because their salary is “miserable”, it is impossible for the HUEH to provide service.
“The strike continues. There has been no progress in terms of negotiations between the Ministry and the strikers”, says Jacques, adding that the current director of the Department of Public Health, Lauré Adrien, has not said a word to guarantee a way out of the crisis.
Doctors and patients affected by lack of means in Haiti
Poor working conditions, insufficient salary, lack of material, poor quality of care… These are some of the situations faced by doctors, staff and patients at the Haitian State University Hospital.
“There is a lack of means to make this hospital work”, with 1,500 employees including resident and intern doctors and administrative positions, says the director.
He pleads for the HUEH to become a social entity in order to be able to find the means that allow it to function.
According to Milcé, “it is a profound change that must be made. Health is not something that can be given away, it has a cost. The State cannot give everything (…) It is necessary for the State to reflect on how to finance public hospitals”, it is a structural problem rather than a temporary one.
Disastrous consequences for the most disadvantaged
In addition, in the opinion of Dr. Jacques, there is a problem in the perception that the population has of the HUEH, they see it as a charity hospital in which both care and medicines should be free, but “there are some services that cannot be get free”.
“There has to be a structure to be able to find sufficient funds, in order to be able to offer an adequate service”, says this doctor, who sees a problem in the fact that the Ministry of Public Health is the sole manager of the institution.
Meanwhile, the consequences of these strikes for those without resources are disastrous. For the majority of the Haitian population, health care is possible thanks to a public hospital.
“If you don’t have money, they won’t even let you into a private hospital,” recalls Mackendy Jacques, who adds: “There are many victims from this strike. There are people who can’t go anywhere else.”
“We cannot take stock of the children who have died, of the people who have died from strokes. This hospital stoppage makes people suffer”, concludes Dr. Jude Milcé.