Education And Debate

Letter from Haiti: Fighting for survival

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 20 August 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:525
  1. C Chelala
  1. 390 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA.
  • Accepted 6 January 1994

The political crisis in Haiti has had a severe impact on the health of the population. Mortality among Haitians is 13 per 1000, much higher than the Latin American rate of seven per 1000, and the incidence of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malnourishment is increasing among children. Although food and medicine are exempt, United Nations sanctions have had a negative impact on most of the population. In particular the embargo on fuel has limited most people's access to health care. The difficulties of distributing aid and health care without softening the embargo on fuel are immense, and the health of Haitians is not likely to improve until the political crisis is resolved.

The recent strengthening of United Nations sanctions against the military regime in Haiti has accelerated the critical situation in the country and has had serious consequences for the already low health status and quality of life of the Haitian people. Although humanitarian aid to soften the impact of the sanctions on the civilian population is an obvious need, delivering it presents almost insurmountable logistical problems. How to overcome these problems is a serious challenge to health related organisations working …

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