Cholera is Back in Haiti
21 October 2022 00:00
In October 2010, 9 months after the devastating earthquake, a cholera outbreak was officially in Haiti’s midst. Cholera is an infection caused by bacteria found in contaminated food or water. This disease can spread rapidly and results in great suffering and mortality, especially in contexts where there is inadequate sanitation, limited access to safe drinking water, and insufficient resources for treatment. According to WHO (World Health Organization), a total of 820,000 cases were reported between then and February 2019. Of those cases, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives. Our partner hospital, HBCH, was at the forefront of the response and prevention efforts. In close partnership with Konbit Sante and MSF (Doctors Without Borders), we helped set up a 250 bed treatment center here in the North that played a monumental role in reducing the mortality rate from 13% down to less than 1%. Thanks to the combined efforts of the devoted hospital staff and the generous HHA community, countless lives were saved.
The last confirmed case of cholera in Haiti was reported in January 2019 (WHO)... until this year. Several years of steady decline, marked by another earthquake and the assassination of a president, has amounted to the humanitarian crisis at hand. People are displaced because of violence. Children are in the streets instead of school. Fuel is being held hostage in the ports. Markets are closed to the buying and selling of food. Safe drinking water is inaccessible. All of these factors have come together to create the prime breeding ground for disease. Cholera is making a comeback.
On 2 October 2022, two confirmed cases were reported. As of 13 October 2022, the Haitian Ministry of Health reported that the total number of suspected cases increased to 655, including 55 confirmed cases, 197 hospitalized suspected cases, and 36 deaths (WHO). Port-au-Prince and Cité Soleil, cities in the south of Haiti, are the epicenters of the current outbreak. These areas are experiencing arguably the worst of the violence and displacement of people. While confirmed cases have been reported primarily in the southern region of the country, we know that this disease doesn’t play fair and can spread rapidly under the radar. In fact, one case was confirmed in the North just yesterday.
Healthcare institutions and charities near us have begun hygiene education and sanitation prevention efforts as they are able with limited fuel and resources. Because we are one of the only hospitals with our doors open and because we have historically played a major role in cholera treatment, many are looking to us to lead the treatment efforts if they are needed. We are preparing to do just that by equipping a treatment center similar to that of 2010, while also supporting the efforts of the community health team as needed.
In these desperate times, we know that we cannot do this alone. If you would like to join us in these prevention and preparation efforts, you can give a financial gift here. Also, we ask that those who share our heart for prayer, pray for…
- healing for those affected by cholera and comfort for those grieving loss.
- the necessary infrastructure to stop the spread of the disease.
- wisdom and provision to open a treatment center should it be needed.
- resolution and peace throughout Haiti.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update and for considering how you can help during this time.