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More will die when foreign medics leave Haiti

Doctors who have flown into Haiti from around the world to treat earthquake victims fear many of their patients will die after they go home. More than 100 dead Haitian nursing students are buried beneath a five-story nursing school that collapsed when the 7.0 magnitude quake hit Port-au-Prince on January 12. For people working in the capital’s general hospital, say it signifies the huge challenges that lie ahead for Haiti's hospitals, many of which were destroyed in the quake. Teams of doctors flooded into Haiti from across the globe after the disaster that killed as many as 200,000 people. Several were specialized surgeons with high-tech equipment to operate on amputated limbs.  But after spending a week or two working on emergencies on the island most fly home, leaving their patients in medical system, which was already challenged before the quake. "I think many of the patients will die," said David Ansell, a US specialist working in Port-au-Prince's general hospital. "I have to discharge people and they have to go live in a tent in front of the palace," he told Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of thousands of quake survivors are living in tents and under sheets in makeshift refugee camps all over the city. Along with the dead nurses, eight doctors at the General Hospital were killed and many fled to other parts of the country after their homes collapsed, said Alix Lassegue, the hospital's director. He said only half of the staff was coming to work. "I see (the foreign doctors) working on patients and they do it fast, but when they leave there will be no more good service," said Jimmy, who lost his 10-year-old child, his wife and his mother when his house was destroyed in the earthquake. He was offered a job at the hospital moving patients on cots.

Haiti’s hardest health crisis could come in future months as sick people, some with infections, return to crowded camps, experts warn. "There are risks in the camps of drug-resistant tuberculosis and Aids, since existing patients may have lost their medications,” said Richard Wenzel, an infectious disease expert working in Haiti. “People will fall through the cracks and there will be a lot more deaths," To date, there is no official figure of how many Haitian medical staff died in the disaster, Health Minister Alex Larsen said in an interview.