Humanitarian Work - Dr. YU
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter near Leogane. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake. The Haitian Government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. It was the most severe earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years.
The earthquake caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other settlements in the region. Many notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the main cathedral, and the main jail. Jacmel is the town where I traveled for my trip in 2008. Leogane, the epicenter, is one of the two main clinics run and supported by Family Health Ministries whom I traveled to Haiti with in 2006. The second floor of the clinic collapsed but the first floor has been repaired and back up and running. These are some photos of the damage taken by a colleague who returned to Jacmel soon after the quake. For more information, please visit Family Health Ministries.
Health care in Haiti is scarce and usually reserved for those who can afford it. Also, many Haitians live in remote areas with poor roads which make access to health care nearly impossible. When Haitians hear that our medical team will be arriving, many travel for days in order to see us. We often have several hundred patients sitting in the hot sun without food and water, patiently waiting to be seen. Surgeries are scheduled in advance to take advantage of our limited time in the country. On the most recent trip to Cayes Jacmel, we performed many surgeries over the course of four days including hernias, large thyroid goiters, random masses within the head and neck area, an amputation, and a cleft lip repair. Unfortunately, due to the extensive damage from recent hurricanes, many patients were unable to reach us due to flooded roads and bridges. They realize that they will have to wait until we return next year.
Humanitarian medical work remains one of the highlights of my medical career. The experience is invaluable and I am grateful for the lessons I learn from the children and families that live in third-world countries. I have been on several humanitarian medical trips over the years and I always look forward to each opportunity.