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Imagine that you were in Peoria this morning and that you needed to take your little boy to the pediatrician. Let’s say he had been sick for four days with a fever and cough. He is whiney because he is sick and, as usual, you had no food to give him this morning. And you hadn’t eaten either.

Imagine that you do not have a car and so you walked down Main Street carrying your boy. During your walk, you noticed that there were not many people out this morning and you wondered why. So you stopped and asked where everyone was and you found out that a Peoria policeman had just been shot and killed by a local gang at the corner of Sheridan and Main.

So imagine that you were scared but that you needed to get your boy to the doctor and so you kept walking. But when you arrived at the top of Main Street hill, you saw a young man casually walking towards you with a Colt M4 automatic weapon. You held your breath and he walked right past you barely glancing your way.

Well, this exact scenario happened to a Haitian friend of mine this morning when he took his baby boy to the pediatric clinic in Cite Soleil. My friend, like many other parents, often risk their lives as they seek medical care for family members.

Haiti has run aground at his point. As Miami Herald journalist Jacquie Charles tweeted this morning, “The gangs are growing becoming more entrenched, police have no means & parliament no political will. Everyone in society paying the price.”

Fanel Delva, a Haitian blogger, recently posted this on the collapse of Haitian society:

“Nothing is safe in this country. Not even the rise of the flag. To live in this corner of the earth is the choice of the real fighter. The latter must fight against insecurity, lack of access to health care, unemployment, indecent proposals, lack of road infrastructure. Here all conditions are met to die every sixty seconds.”

And today gunshots rang out today near the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince. This will not be met with an improvement in the U. S. State Department travel advisory–currently at Level 4.

Regarding the Haitian situation, my friend ended his text to me today with the following:

“Since you cannot eat, you cannot find your health. You cannot find electricity, and you can’t send your kids to school. You can’t find money to pay for your rent, and you cannot find work. You can’t take care of your family, and you know you have died even though you haven’t entered the cemetery.”

John A. Carroll, MD