In PORT-AU-PRINCE, the director of one of Haiti’s top hospitals was kidnapped on Friday, March 27. Causing the staff there to stop taking in new patients as they protested, while the impoverished country battles the spread of the COVID-19 in the middle of a spike in violent crimes caused by the gangs.
The surgeon, Dr. Jerry Bitar, was kidnapped not long after he left his home for work at Hospital Bernard Mevs. He lives in an upscale neighborhood of the capital, hospital staff reported.
Kidnappings for ransom sharply increased in Haiti this year amid the economic and political crisis which is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere according to the World Bank.
The Police reported 15 kidnapping cases in January. When victims range from Haitian schoolchildren, lawmakers and businessmen to foreign aid workers, it is assumed that gangs appear to be striking indiscriminately.
A crowd gathered outside the facility to show solidarity with Bitar, he runs the hospital together with his twin brother, and staff chanted in unison with the crowds and called for his release. The Haitian media outlets also pleaded for gangsters to release Bitar.
Claude Devil the Medical assistant, said the hospital usually attended to all Haitians, and even those who had no money to pay for services were included, but new patients were not taken in while they still attempted to look after existing ones as best as possible.
There are several patients waiting to be operated but the staff cannot work without the doctor’s order.
The Bernard Mevs hospital is a trauma and critical care centre, and it is not currently treating coronavirus cases yet but could need to if the disease spreads in the country, where healthcare services and sanitation infrastructure are not adequate.
Sources revealed that the relevant authorities are following the case.
A 2019 study done by the Research and Education Consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH), stated that Haiti has only 64 ventilators for a population of approximately 11 million, which makes it more vulnerable if an outbreak of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 should spread there.
“There is a serious concern, given the high number of persons there, that are considered to be at an elevated risk,” the Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote in a paper which was published recently, it was co-authored by its analysts Jake Johnston and Kira Paulemon.
Haitian authorities confirmed that eight persons were infected with the novel coronavirus so far. The President Jovenel Moise declared a state of emergency, and ordered schools, factories, and places of worship to be closed, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, he closed the country’s borders to people and imposed a curfew, last week.
The streets continue to be busy as many in the country are living below the poverty line, they ignore recommendations to stay at home or practice social distancing.
Many don’t have access to the news.
Even when Haitians have the best intentions, tricky access to clean water makes it difficult for them to wash their hands frequently, the hygiene rules that health professionals are promoting as the top defense against the spread of the coronavirus could be impossible for the people to keep.