The Sanofi Espoir Foundation has responded together with its partners to the call for humanitarian aid launched by Haitian authorities after the passage of hurricane Matthew, the most violent in ten years, which hit the southwestern tip of Haiti on October 4th. Ever since the cyclone was forecast, the Haitian authorities had triggered a warning plan, took preventive measures and put in place evaluation and coordination committees at the national and departmental level with whom our partners are connected.
The hurricane Matthew plunged the country into a humanitarian catastrophe, already taking about 330 lives and affecting over 2.1 million people in need of immediate assistance according to the latest figures from UN Office for Humanitarian Assistance (OHA).
On site, there is considerable damage, especially in the southern departments of Grande Anse and Nippes, which are most affected. The most immediate needs are access to clean water and food security, both threatened because of the heavy flooding caused by the hurricane that also destroyed whole livelihoods, cropland, fishing boats and large numbers of cattle. In the health domain, the resurgence of cholera and diarrheal diseases due to disastrous sanitary conditions are putting considerable pressure on health facilities, which are mostly destroyed or heavily damaged.
After a phase of needs assessment, made difficult in the most affected areas, the Sanofi Espoir Foundation decided to provide initial support to the French Red Cross and Première Urgence Internationale (PUI). Their complementary participation will prevent the lack of coordination that was observed following the terrible crisis of 2010 and provide linkage with other emergency actors, including support for much weakened health facilities.
To fight against the much-feared outbreak of cholera or other epidemics, and enable continuity in primary health care, action plans include:
- For the Red Cross: Intervention in Bas-Artibonite, on the island of Gonave and in the western zone, to fight against waterborne diseases, especially the cholera epidemic and improve access for communities to quality care:
- Improving the five Cholera Treatment centers supported by the Red Cross with the necessary equipment, and also training caregivers to treat cholera sufferers.
- Establishing mobile teams for patient transportation,
- Intervening in communities: awareness raising and promoting hygiene, distributing kits, creating special sites to accommodate children.
- All these activities could benefit 200,000 people and 50 people in the medical profession for the next four months.
- For Première Urgence Internationale: acting in the department of Grande Anse (the towns of Beaumont and Pestel) to rehabilitate and upgrade health facilities, supply drugs and medical equipment, supporting immunization programs, preventing and fighting against epidemics by awareness-raising and promoting hygiene, referencing at-risk pregnancies and pathologies requiring care at a secondary level, as well as sharing data about people in a state of shock, especially children, so psychological support can be provided.
These activities will concern 45,000 people and 50 health professionals for a period of three months.
In addition to the financial support of €150,000 provided by the French Red Cross and PUI, the first drug donations were also made for PUI through our partner NGO Tulipe, via a flight chartered by the Crisis Centre of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which carried 261 kilos of drugs and medical equipment, including three canteens for handling emergencies (antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, minor surgery, injectable drugs, etc.), one trunk of pediatric drugs and one trunk with treatments for adults, to ensure approximately 1,000 initial consultations. A second shipment of drugs involved the firefighting NGO AAIP (Aide Action Internationale Pompiers).
Zentiva has also donated 500,000 paracetamol boxes that will pass through Tulip to meet the needs of the partner associations active in Haiti.
Sanofi’s US affiliate is also making financial donations to its partners Heart to Heart, AmeriCares and Direct Relief for a total amount of $100,000. The NGO Heart to Heart has also benefited from donations of medicines and vaccines and a call for generosity to the subsidiary’s employees through donations which will be matched dollar for dollar by the company.
A volunteer action will be organized on the Bridgewater site to allow employees to build 1,000 hygiene kits for the communities affected.
As to Sanofi employees (about 70 people) in the subsidiary located in the Dominican Republic and its trading partner in Haiti, they are all safe and sound.
Through the implementation of these early actions, Sanofi employees wish to express their solidarity with the Haitian people who have been so violently affected by this new disaster, following the devastating earthquake of less than six years ago in what is one of the world's poorest countries.