(AFP) Hurricane Irma has left about 17,000 people in desperate need of shelter and has devastated hospitals and health clinics across the eastern Caribbean islands, the World Health Organisation (WHO)said Tuesday.
After its passage through the Caribbean and Florida, Irma has left at least 40 people dead, according to local authorities.
In an overview of the situation, the WHO described a dire health situation on the hardest-hit islands, after many hospitals and health clinics were completely or partially destroyed.
In addition to the work needed to rebuild health care facilities, “there is obviously the issue of evacuating patients who cannot be treated in functioning hospitals,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.
Islands that have suffered heavy devastation also desperately need a fresh influx of medical staff to replace local healthcare workers, who have been working around the clock even as many have been hit personally by the storm, he said.
The overview also included data from the UN humanitarian agency showing that a full 17,000 people in the eastern Caribbean desperately needed shelter.
Here is an overview of the situation, according to WHO:Anguilla — the hospital is offering reduced services, and critically ill patients are being transferred to other Caribbean countries. There is significant damage to the water supply and 90 per cent of the electricity infrastructure has been damaged.
Antigua and Barbuda — Two shelters are functioning in Antigua and are housing 305 people. The hospital in Barbuda suffered significant damage is not functioning at all.
Bahamas — More than 1,000 people were evacuated from Family Islands before the storm hit.
British Virgin Islands — The hospital was severely damaged but continues to offer emergency services.
Turks and Caicos Islands — were particularly hard-hit, with 80-90 per cent of households damaged on South Caicos, where plans are underway to evacuate 2,000 people. Seventy per cent of houses on Providenciales were damaged, as were 50 per cent on Grand Turk, where the hospital suffered significant damage. The governor of Grand Turk has declared the island a disaster area.
Cuba — The government has reported that 10 people died in the storm, and two million were evacuated to shelters and the houses of neighbours or relatives. Hospitals in six cities and town, including in Havana, have suffered damage.
Haiti — Authorities have reported one fatality, one person missing and five injured. There are currently 67 shelters housing nearly 1,500 people.
Puerto Rico — Three deaths have been reported, while 154 people are being housed in shelters and nearly half a million are without electricity, and some 154,000 without drinking water. Six hospitals have no electricity.
Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy — All hospital services have been moved from Saint Martin, where the hospital was damaged. Hospital services have resumed in Saint Barthelemy. French President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to the Caribbean that 11 people have been killed.
Sint Maarten — Forty per cent of houses were severely damaged, and 5,000 people need shelter. The hospital has been damaged and is working at 30 per cent capacity. Four out of 12 pharmacies have been damaged, and most doctors are not working. Four people have lost their lives.
United States — The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that 586 shelters are housing 192,000 people in Florida and 92 shelters are housing more than 7,000 people in Georgia. Nearly six million people are without power. In Florida, 46 hospitals have been closed and 204 other healthcare facilities have been evacuated.
US Virgin Islands — Four people have been confirmed dead and 376 are in shelters. FEMA reported that 55,000 people were without electricity and 341,000 without drinking water. One hospital in Saint Thomas has been evacuated and closed.