More on delays of Medical Aid

An order giving United States military aircraft priority to land in Haiti after last week’s massive earthquake has delayed the arrival of urgently needed medical teams and supplies by up to 48 hours.

Doctors have described a “dramatic” situation, where more than five cargo planes carrying surgical equipment have been refused landings at Port-au-Prince airport in the days after the 7.0-magnitude quake.


Benoit Leduc from Medecins Sans Frontieres says the delays have made the situation worse and doctors are now in a race against time to save the injured.

“It’s difficult operations, we’re facing logistics constraints. We had five of our planes, three cargo planes and two of our expatriate staff – including surgical teams that we tried to send in pretty quickly – five of these planes were refused to land,” he said.

“They had to go across the border. So these additional delays – we clearly had like 48 hours of delay – because of this access problem to the site.”

US troop landings delay Haiti aid

MSF Plane Diverted

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 U.S. Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday Jan. 16, 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 10:00 a.m. 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.

MSF Press release

Letting the soldiers in before the medicine…

The World Food Program finally was able to land flights of food, medicine and water on Saturday, after failing on Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. Those flights had been diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.

“There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti,” said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency’s Haiti effort. “But most of those flights are for the United States military.

He added: “Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.”

“Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises”, New York Times