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haiti in crisis

Gangs in Haiti are abducting doctors, and their patients are paying the price

One of the few orthopedic surgeons in Haiti was abducted by gang members Wednesday in Port-au-Prince, leaving dozens of patients injured during Saturday's 7.2-magnitude earthquake without anyone to treat them.

The victim, Dr. Workens Alexandre, works at the Bernard Mevs Hospital, where 45 of its 48 patients are waiting to have orthopedic surgery, The Associated Press reports. There has been an increase in gang violence in Haiti this year, and one official at the hospital told AP some health care workers, worried about their safety while driving to and from the hospital, have been staying on site for several days at a time.

On Tuesday, an obstetrician on his way to perform an emergency cesarean in Port-au-Prince was abducted by gang members, and because he was unable to get to the hospital, his patient and her baby died. Dr. Ronald La Roche, founder of the DASH network of hospitals, told AP he is "furious" at the gang members, adding, "They are responsible for the death of this woman and her child." In protest of the abductions, La Roche said his hospitals will be closed for two days to non-emergency cases.

The death toll for the earthquake is close to 2,200, and that number is expected to rise. More than 12,000 people were injured, leaving hospitals already dealing with COVID-19 patients overwhelmed. AP reports that the families of the abducted doctors have been contacted by the kidnappers, but it is unclear how much they are asking for ransom.