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Medical Supplies Delivered to Haiti Hospital Not Enough to End Staff Strike, Workers Say

Workers count supplies that they received from health ministry, at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

Workers count supplies that they received from health ministry, at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

The health ministry delivered a truckload of medical supplies to Haiti’s biggest public hospital Thursday, but resident doctors said it wouldn’t come close to ending a strike that has spread through the economically straitened health system.

A few dozen boxes of gauze, gloves and other basic materials were unloaded by government workers at the chronically under-resourced General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince. Officials vowed to bring at least five more truckloads of supplies in coming days.

But Dr. Jhon Evenst Douyon, a spokesman for striking resident doctors at the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, described the delivery as an empty gesture amid stalled negotiations with the government.

“These supplies that came today would get used up after three days here if things were running normally,” said Douyon, a second-year anesthesiology resident at the teaching hospital.

The hospital’s executive director, Maurice Fils Mainville, said he was not at liberty to discuss details of negotiations. But he acknowledged the new materials and equipment would not be enough to end the staff strike.

“We have always worked with what we have and it’s never been enough,” Mainville told reporters.

Resident doctors have refused to take new patients since late March, saying the government doesn’t provide adequate resources or pay them fairly.

The walkout started after a physical fight between an administrator and a resident. Nurses and cleaning staff joined in, leaving the emergency room and wards empty except for a few stragglers or sick prisoners shackled to beds.

Across Haiti, staff at other long-struggling public hospitals have joined the strike in solidarity, protesting the persistent dearth of resources, unsafe working conditions and dismal salaries for medical professionals.

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