About 650,000 Haitians, including 260,000 minors, need urgent humanitarian aid, with assistance in health and food, alerted this Wednesday the regional director of UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Jean Gough’s warning comes a month after an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale rocked southeastern Haiti.
“The lives of children and teenagers saved from the earthquake are now threatened by preventable diseases, because they do not have access to clean water and basic health services,” said the UNICEF leader.
The Aug. 14 earthquake that shook Haitian territory caused more than 2,200 deaths and at least 12,200 injuries and destroyed about 130,000 homes, according to the United Nations agency.
The senior official at the United Nations Children’s Fund – or UNICEF – explained that, a month after the earthquake, “health services are still suspended in southwestern Haiti”, where some 82 hospitals were damaged or destroyed.
Limited hospital care capacity poses high health risks, such as wound infection and tetanus risk.
The lack of routine health services increased the risk of deaths in maternity and newborns. In addition, the ability of health authorities to prevent, identify and treat malnutrition was also weakened by the earthquake.
“Maintaining access to life-saving care and resuming maternal and child health services is a critical priority of UNICEF’s response, including the treatment of children and adolescents with acute malnutrition,” he added.
UNICEF requested US$73.3 million (approximately 62 million euros) to respond to humanitarian needs after the earthquake, focusing on providing urgent support in health, education, water, sanitation, nutrition and child protection, including gender-based violence over the next six months.
So far, it has received less than 11% of the intended amount, the body said. Haiti, which is already one of the poorest countries in the world, with 60% of the population below the poverty line, is located in a seismic zone.
The previous earthquake, which occurred in 2010, left over 200,000 dead and devastated the country’s economy. The August 14 earthquake, with its epicenter in the southern peninsula of the island, caused the death of more than 2200 people.