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Psychiatric patients in P-au-P go without care for two months


Since February, the area surrounding Port-au-Prince’s only public psychiatric center, which was still operating, has become increasingly dangerous due to heavy gunfire from gangs

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Heavy gunfire in the vicinity of the Mars & Kline psychiatric hospital forced Fedeline Jean Louis to flee on February 29, 2024.

The lady was accompanying her mother, Rose-Marie Galan, to her appointment at the only public psychiatric center in Port-au-Prince which was still operating.

“We didn’t even have time to see the doctor,” Jean Louis told AyiboPost. “I was forced to leave with my mother who was in dire need of medication.”

Mars and Kline hopital haiti

An elderly woman is assisted by other women as they hastily leave downtown Port-au-Prince due to gang violence in March 2024. | © Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost

Galan, 46, has been attending Mars and Kline for over twenty years. The treatment allows the mother of four children to continue her business activities.

But Mars and Kline – which sometimes receives several dozen patients per day – has been dysfunctional for over two months. This hinders patients’ access to care.

“A Pèlerin shopkeeper, my mother is not well and can’t do anything,” worries Jean Louis. “She has an absent-minded look and sometimes laughs incessantly. »

Armed gang attacks that have occurred in several neighborhoods of the metropolitan area since February 29, 2024 have forced around thirty hospitals to close their doors, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

Read also: Haiti: hospitals overwhelmed by events

Naomie, a member of the maintenance staff at Mars and Kline, reports that she was almost killed on March 2, 2024 during clashes between the police and armed gangs in the lower part of the city of Port-au-Prince.

Having escaped thanks to the help of a relative on a motorcycle, the woman says she can no longer return to the center.


A biker helps passengers flee violence in downtown Port-au-Prince in March 2024.  | © Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost

Naomie knows other employees in the same situation. She requests the use of her first name because she is not authorized to speak on behalf of the institution.

Early in the morning of April 25, 2024, armed bandits breached a hospital wall to force their way through.

On occasion, the thugs made threatening remarks towards the occupants of the space, reveals another employee on site who is delighted that there were no victims.

Contacted by AyiboPost, the current director of the center Dr Normil Franklin – himself unable to get to his office – confirms the difficulty of access for staff, without providing additional details on the center’s current situation.

AyiboPost contacted the communications manager of the Ministry of Public Health, Jeanty Fils Exalus. He did not comment.

Since February, heavy gunfire has made the area surrounding the psychiatric center increasingly dangerous.

Mars & Kline

A somber view of Mars & Kline Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince in February 2020. | © Emmanuel Yves Moise/AyiboPost

The faculty of medicine and pharmacy of the State University of Haiti, located near the psychiatric center, was vandalized and looted by bandits on the night of April 20 to 21, 2024.

“Professionals can no longer directly assist patients,” psychiatrist Dimitri Thadal explains to AyiboPost. Medication instructions, according to the Mars and Kline doctor, are provided by telephone to the small staff still present to assist them.

Only a few employees, including Bettie, a member of the support staff, risk frequenting the space.

Bettie says she has noticed that many of the patients have left. Some were recovered by their families.

The sick who remained there have been assisted by employees who have taken refuge in the hospital since the first attacks by bandits in the lower part of the town at the end of February.

Mars & Kline

Patients find themselves in the courtyard of the Mars & Kline hospital in February 2020. | © Emmanuel Yves Moise/AyiboPost

Jean Belfort is one of them. The institution’s overseer, his home was ransacked by the bandits on Rue de l’Enterrement.

“The situation is very complicated for patients and employees on site,” Belfort reports to AyiboPost. “There is no drinking water and not enough food.”

Belfort doesn’t feel safe either. The area being impassable, the parents of patients who remained inside hesitate to come and collect them.

According to Belfort, nearly 80 patients including around 30 women were still in the center as of April 30.

Today, medical services are at a standstill and the situation remains tense in a context where the mental health of the population remains very difficult.

The situation is very complicated for patients and employees on site. There is no drinking water and not enough food.

Jean Belfort

Mars and Kline saw about 30 patients a day from across the country, according to psychiatrist Dimitri Thadal.

In a report by the World Health Organization in 2011, the mental health system in Haiti was described as failing with insufficient resources.

This report highlights the lack of hospital centers for patients and a very low number of professionals compared to the population.

Furthermore, the budget allocated to mental health at the Ministry of Public Health and Population was only 1%, with very few staff specialized in these areas.

There are 27 psychiatrists in Haiti, or 0.28 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants and 194 psychologists (2 per 100,000 inhabitants).

Mars and Kline

This young man, forcibly restrained, is one of dozens of potentially violent patients that Mars & Kline receives each year. | © Emmanuel Yves Moise/AyiboPost

Max-Weber Victor, a psychiatrist at Mars and Kline for nearly 15 years, explains to AyiboPost that people suffering from mental disorders, found in the streets, are frequently victims during major waves of violence in Port-au-Prince.

“Unfortunately, these cases are not recorded,” regrets the doctor.

Read also: AHPsy: In Haiti, requests for psychological support are surging

For his part, Marabishi Jasmin, neuropsychiatrist, warns of the increase in the number of cases of people suffering from mental illnesses in the country.

“We should expect more cases of major depression, particularly for families who are forced to keep sick people at home,” warns the specialist.

Medication shortages are another problem. “This can trigger, in certain cases, psychotic attacks where patients can show increased aggression,” underlines Jasmin.

Since the bandits’ attack at the end of February, the main ports as well as the international airport of Port-au-Prince have been closed.

At least about ten pharmacies were set on fire by the bandits not far from the psychiatric center.

Hopital Universitaire de l'Etat haïtien

View of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH), the largest hospital center in the country, today out of service, according to statements by its director Jude Milcé to AyiboPost.  | © Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost

The difficulty of finding medications remains a major concern for Fedeline Jean-Louis cited above.

“For the moment,” says Rose-Marie Galan’s daughter, “we are forced to assist her at home, given our means are limited to try other alternatives.”

By Lucnise Duquereste, Rolph Louis-JeuneWethzer Piercin

Cover image: View of the facade of the Mars & Kline hospital in Port-au-Prince in February 2020. | © Emmanuel Yves Moise/AyiboPost

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Journaliste à AyiboPost depuis mars 2023, Duquereste est étudiante finissante en communication sociale à la Faculté des Sciences Humaines (FASCH).