Nightly News | February 09, 2010
>>> death toll is 230,000 and counting. in haiti , according to one newspaper there, right now the effort is a race to avoid what they're calling death by red tape in haiti . there is a theory that the case involving those american missionaries has made it tougher, made it worse to get children out of that country for immediate needed medical treatment . our report tonight from port-au-prince and nbc's mike taibbi .
>> reporter: this 3-month-old baby needed sieve-saving cranial surgery but the doctors without borders specialist couldn't do it in haiti . with no documentation papers available, no pilot would evacuate her. that's been the store on the grounds of the povertio prince airport, ever since those baptist missionaries were arrested and jailed. pilots willing to fly, but only on one condition.
>> hand me some papers, i'll do it. i don't want to get in trouble about it.
>> reporter: for about all the children in this pediatrics ward, there are no papers to obtain. add in the typical red tape for special permission and the fear of flying without it, and private evacuations have slowed from 10 to 15 a day to no more than a half dozen total in the nearly two weeks since the baptist missionaries' case became what the prime minister call a huge distraction. some doctors say for the sickest kids here, the most seriously injured, it's a question of life or death. still, pediatricians working these crowded wards state the obvious.
>> the longer we wait with any child who is sick, their condition will probably worsen.
>> reporter: u.s. military rescue flights are still taking off daily. and more specialists and better equipment are arriving by the day, but private evacuations are way down, adding to the grim tally.
>> a few deaths last week and the patients that could have gotten out but didn't or the papers weren't done in time, and certainly worse outcomes for a lot of children.
>> reporter: another stumbling block for a country still in the beginning of its struggle to recover. mike taibbi , nbc news, port-au-prince.