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WHO: 8 Hospitals Severely Damaged in Haitian Capital

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Eight hospitals or health facilities in and around the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince were severely damaged by Tuesday's earthquake, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday.

Two hospitals in neighboring Dominican Republic were also affected.

"This obviously hampers the ability for people to receive urgent, life-saving treatment," WHO communications officer Paul Garwood said in Geneva.

WHO's priorities are to rescue survivors, treat blunt trauma and prevent infection. Garwood also promoted breastfeeding, which he called "a critical way to save young people's lives."

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti's health system was already dire, according to Garwood.

"In terms of healthcare, Haiti is ranked as one of the extreme, grave countries, not just with communicable diseases but also with HIV/AIDS," Garwood said, adding, "I wonder about how those people are getting their antiretrovirals."

Garwood said that cholera, tuberculosis, malaria and diarrheal diseases abound in Haiti.

On Tuesday, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing widespread damage and loss of life.

(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2010)

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