By Laura Gottesdiener
LES CAYES, Haiti (Reuters) – Seventeen-month-old Esther Sanon lay on a mat in the overflowing hospital of a Haitian city recently struck by a devastating earthquake, a bandage wrapped around her fractured leg and a bruise on the side of her tiny head.
“She needs help, she is really suffering. I don’t have money to buy medication,” said her mother, Liliane Benoit, 38.
Healthcare workers at the general hospital in the southern coastal city of Les Cayes say she is one of hundreds of children and babies in need of medical care since Saturday’s 7.2 magnitude quake struck, killing more than 1,400 people.
The hospital’s staff say that they are doing their best, but are unable to cope with all the patients.
The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF estimated that 540,000 children in Haiti were affected, nearly half of the total number of people hit by the unfolding disaster.
“About half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, health care and nutrition,” Bruno Maes, UNICEF’s representative in Haiti, said in a statement.
Hospital workers in Les Cayes said they feared the facility would be even more overwhelmed after Tropical Storm Grace pummeled the area with heavy rain on Monday night, turning the encampment where hundreds of displaced people have set up tents into a soggy field. Many are children. Some are pregnant women.
Pediatrician Marie Cherry said the hospital was desperately short of personnel to look after the injured, including nearly three dozen babies hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries, broken bones or sliced limbs.
“We need more doctors, nurses and pediatricians, that is the most important thing right now,” she said. Supplies, too, were running low, ranging from antibiotics and painkillers to bandages, cinctures and gloves, Cherry added.
About a hundred people at the hospital, mostly mothers and children, crammed into a large room lined with mats after the pediatric ward was damaged in the quake.
Wesley Jules, 4, had his head wrapped in a bandage from a deep wound, his eyes nearly swollen shut.
“He needs help,” said his mother, Mikerlove Bernard. “He needs medicine.”
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