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Haiti health system nears collapse as medicine dwindles, gangs attack hospitals and ports stay shut

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Haiti health system nears collapse as medicine dwindles, gangs attack hospitals and ports stay shut
News

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Haiti health system nears collapse as medicine dwindles, gangs attack hospitals and ports stay shut

2024-04-23 19:34 Last Updated At:20:01

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — On a recent morning at a hospital in the heart of gang territory in Haiti’s capital, a woman began convulsing before her body went limp as a doctor and two nurses raced to save her.

They stuck electrodes to her chest and flipped on an oxygen machine while keeping their eyes on a computer screen that reflected a dangerously low oxygen level of 84%.

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FILE - Marc Baptiste rests on a bench after being treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — On a recent morning at a hospital in the heart of gang territory in Haiti’s capital, a woman began convulsing before her body went limp as a doctor and two nurses raced to save her.

Police stop at a car to inspect in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Police stop at a car to inspect in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A malnourished child waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - A malnourished child waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

A person takes a bath at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa )

A person takes a bath at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa )

A domino player wears clips on his arm, placed every time he loses, at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A domino player wears clips on his arm, placed every time he loses, at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Denize Flerino wipes sweat from the brow of her son who is suffering from high fevers at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - Denize Flerino wipes sweat from the brow of her son who is suffering from high fevers at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

A body lies in the middle of the street as commuters make their way through the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A body lies in the middle of the street as commuters make their way through the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A man lifts a chain being used as a barricade for neighbors to pass into the neighborhood as they work to prepare a metal gate to protect themselves from gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A man lifts a chain being used as a barricade for neighbors to pass into the neighborhood as they work to prepare a metal gate to protect themselves from gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Neighbors raise a metal gate as they work to install it as a barricade against gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Neighbors raise a metal gate as they work to install it as a barricade against gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A woman accompanied by her daughter, waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - A woman accompanied by her daughter, waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

People walk past tires and a burned-out vehicle used to create roadblocks in the Canapé Vert area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

People walk past tires and a burned-out vehicle used to create roadblocks in the Canapé Vert area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A youth washes clothes at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A youth washes clothes at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Marc Baptiste is treated for a bullet wound at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - Marc Baptiste is treated for a bullet wound at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

No one knew what was wrong with her.

Even more worrisome, the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Cite Soleil slum was running low on key medicine to treat convulsions.

“The medication she really needs, we barely have,” said Dr. Rachel Lavigne, a physician with the medical aid group.

It’s a familiar scene repeated daily at hospitals and clinics across Port-au-Prince, where life-saving medication and equipment is dwindling or altogether absent as brutal gangs tighten their grip on the capital and beyond. They have blocked roads, forced the closure of the main international airport in early March and paralyzed operations at the country’s largest seaport, where containers filled with key supplies remain stuck.

“Everything is crashing,” Lavigne said.

Haiti’s health system has long been fragile, but it’s now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical infrastructure in the capital and beyond.

The violence has forced several medical institutions and dialysis centers to close, including Haiti’s largest public hospital. Located in downtown Port-au-Prince, the Hospital of the State University of Haiti was supposed to reopen on April 1 after closing when the attack began, but gangs have infiltrated it.

One of the few institutions still operating is Peace University Hospital, located south of the shuttered airport. From Feb. 29 to April 15, the hospital treated some 200 patients with gunshot wounds, and its beds remain full.

“We urgently need fuel because we operate using generators. Otherwise we run the risk of closing our doors,” hospital director Dr. Paul Junior Fontilus said in a statement.

More than 2,500 people were killed or wounded across Haiti from January to March, a more than 50% increase compared with the same period last year, according to a recent U.N. report.

Even if a hospital is open, sometimes there is little or no medical staff because gang violence erupts daily in Port-au-Prince, forcing doctors and nurses to stay at home or turn around if they encounter blocked roads manned by heavily armed men.

The spiraling chaos has left a growing number of patients with cancer, AIDS and other serious illnesses with little to no recourse, with gangs also looting and setting fire to pharmacies in the capital’s downtown area.

Doctors Without Borders itself has run out of many medications used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure, and asthma inhalers that help prevent deadly attacks are nowhere to be found in the capital, Lavigne said.

At the Doctors Without Borders hospital, medical staff recently tried to save a boy with a severe asthma attack by giving him oxygen, she said. That didn’t work, and neither did another type of medication. Finally, they ended up injecting him with adrenaline, which is used in emergencies to treat anaphylactic shock.

“We improvise and we do our best for the people here,” Lavigne said.

People’s health is worsening because the daily medication they need for their chronic conditions is not available, warned Doctors Without Borders project coordinator Jacob Burns.

“It becomes acute and then they run out of options,” he said. “For certain people, there are very, very few options right now.”

Despite the pressing need for medical care, the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Cite Soleil has been forced to cut the number of outpatients it treats daily from 150 to 50, Burns said, though all emergencies are attended to.

Scores of people line up outside the hospital each day and risk being shot by gang members who control the area as they await medical care.

Everyone is allowed to enter the hospital compound, but medical staff set up a triage to determine which 50 people will be seen. Those with less urgent needs are asked to return another day, Burns said.

On Friday morning, 51-year-old Jean Marc Baptiste shuffled into the emergency room with a bloody bandage on his right hand. He said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs.

Once inside, nurses removed the bandage to reveal a gaping wound in his thumb as he cried out in pain. Lavigne told him he needed a plastic surgeon, which the hospital does not have, and ordered X-rays to ensure there was no fracture.

On average, the Cite Soleil hospital sees three wounded people a day, but sometimes it’s up to 14 now, staff said.

Recently, five people wounded by bullets arrived at the hospital after spending all night inside a public bus that couldn’t move because of heavy gunfire, Burns said.

“Cite Soleil was long the epicenter of violence,” he said. “And now violence is so widespread that it’s become a problem for everyone.”

FILE - Marc Baptiste rests on a bench after being treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - Marc Baptiste rests on a bench after being treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

Police stop at a car to inspect in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Police stop at a car to inspect in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A malnourished child waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - A malnourished child waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

A person takes a bath at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa )

A person takes a bath at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa )

A domino player wears clips on his arm, placed every time he loses, at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A domino player wears clips on his arm, placed every time he loses, at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Denize Flerino wipes sweat from the brow of her son who is suffering from high fevers at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - Denize Flerino wipes sweat from the brow of her son who is suffering from high fevers at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

A body lies in the middle of the street as commuters make their way through the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A body lies in the middle of the street as commuters make their way through the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A man lifts a chain being used as a barricade for neighbors to pass into the neighborhood as they work to prepare a metal gate to protect themselves from gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A man lifts a chain being used as a barricade for neighbors to pass into the neighborhood as they work to prepare a metal gate to protect themselves from gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Neighbors raise a metal gate as they work to install it as a barricade against gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Neighbors raise a metal gate as they work to install it as a barricade against gangs, in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - A woman accompanied by her daughter, waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - A woman accompanied by her daughter, waits to be treated at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

People walk past tires and a burned-out vehicle used to create roadblocks in the Canapé Vert area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

People walk past tires and a burned-out vehicle used to create roadblocks in the Canapé Vert area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A youth washes clothes at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A youth washes clothes at a public school that serves as a shelter for people displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, April 22, 2024. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

FILE - Marc Baptiste is treated for a bullet wound at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - Marc Baptiste is treated for a bullet wound at a Doctors Without Borders emergency room in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 19, 2024. Baptiste said police in an armored vehicle shot him the previous day as he was collecting wood to sell as kindling in an area controlled by gangs. Haiti's health system has long been fragile, but it's now nearing total collapse after gangs launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, targeting critical state infrastructure in the capital and beyond. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

Next Article

Wild Knights, Brave Lupus to meet in Japan Rugby League One final

2024-05-24 13:01 Last Updated At:13:10

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Japan Rugby League One final will be a showdown between coaches who emerged from the same New Zealand rugby nursery and have taken similar paths to Sunday's showdown in Tokyo.

Robbie Deans will coach serial winners Saitama Wild Knights while Todd Blackadder will guide Brave Lupus Tokyo in the JRLO final in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000 at the National Stadium.

Deans is a product of New Zealand’s Canterbury province who played five tests at fullback for the All Blacks and later coached the Christchurch-based Crusaders to five Super Rugby titles between 2000 and 2008. He was an assistant coach of the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup and coached Australia from 2008 to 2013.

Blackadder also is a product of Canterbury as both player and coach. He played 71 matches for the Crusaders and 12 tests for the All Blacks as a loose forward before turning to coaching. He coached the Crusaders immediately after Deans and until 2016, without adding to their tally of championships.

He had success coaching Bath in England before joining Brave Lupus in 2019.

Both Deans and Blackadder began their careers at the Glenmark-Cheviot club near Christchurch and Blackadder was effectively Deans’ protege before he followed him at the Crusaders.

“I haven’t physically seen much of Toddy since he moved up here,” Deans said. “That’s just the way it is, there’s not much opportunity to cross paths. But we talk occasionally and it’s good to see him doing well. He’s got a good roster there and they’re playing some good rugby.”

The contest in the coaching box is only one of the numerous head-to-head match-ups in the final.

Japan flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda for the Wild Knights will mark All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga for the Brave Lupus, Wallaby Marika Koroibete will mark Japan’s Jone Naikabula, Australian-born Japan international Jack Cornelsen will oppose Japan legend Michael Leitch and Springbok winger Damien De Allende will face off against former All Black Seta Tamanivalu.

The Wild Knights are unbeaten in 17 matches and are chasing their seventh title since the Japan league became semi-professional as the Top League in 2003. Japan Rugby League One, now three years old, is its successor.

Deans said the presence of Mo’unga and All Blacks backrower Shannon Frizell in the Brave Lupus side helped to make them a formidable opponent. Mo’unga has seven Super Rugby titles and is aiming to add the JRLO title in his first season in Japan.

“The league continues to lift, not surprisingly if you look at the number of current internationals out there now, not to mention coaches,” Deans said. “Mo’unga will be a factor obviously. He has a good habit of winning titles.”

AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

FILE - Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder looks on their Super 15 rugby union match against the Sharks at Twickenham, London, England, on March 27, 2011. The final of Japan Rugby League One will be a showdown between coaches who emerged from the same rugby nursery and have taken similar paths to the league showdown. Robbie Deans will coach serial winners Wild Knights while Todd Blackadder will guide Brave Lupus Tokyo in the JRLO final in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium. (AP Photo/Tim Hales, File)

FILE - Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder looks on their Super 15 rugby union match against the Sharks at Twickenham, London, England, on March 27, 2011. The final of Japan Rugby League One will be a showdown between coaches who emerged from the same rugby nursery and have taken similar paths to the league showdown. Robbie Deans will coach serial winners Wild Knights while Todd Blackadder will guide Brave Lupus Tokyo in the JRLO final in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium. (AP Photo/Tim Hales, File)

FILE - Australian Rugby Union head coach Robbie Deans discusses the selection of the 25-man Wallabies squad to take on the British and Irish Lions in a three-test series starting next month, in Sydney, on May 19, 2013. The final of Japan Rugby League One will be a showdown between coaches who emerged from the same rugby nursery and have taken similar paths to the league showdown. Robbie Deans will coach serial winners Wild Knights while Todd Blackadder will guide Brave Lupus Tokyo in the JRLO final in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

FILE - Australian Rugby Union head coach Robbie Deans discusses the selection of the 25-man Wallabies squad to take on the British and Irish Lions in a three-test series starting next month, in Sydney, on May 19, 2013. The final of Japan Rugby League One will be a showdown between coaches who emerged from the same rugby nursery and have taken similar paths to the league showdown. Robbie Deans will coach serial winners Wild Knights while Todd Blackadder will guide Brave Lupus Tokyo in the JRLO final in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000 at Tokyo’s National Stadium. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

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