Earthquake-devastated Haiti now has a cholera outbreak which threatens to kill hundreds more people on top of the hundreds of thousands who died in the January 12 quake.
Haiti’s survivors have been living in makeshift shelters in worse than stone-age conditions since their homes were reduced to rubble. There is no law and order. Rape and robbery are everyday occurrences there. And now, cholera is killing them too.
Cholera is spread by dirty water that has been contaminated with fecal matter. Those who drink the water get fever, nausea and a terrible diarrhea that dehydrates the body. The victims quickly waste away, and, if the disease remainsÂ untreated, death usually occur in just hours.
World Vision is one of the aid organizations and charities responding to Haiti’s devastating cholera outbreak, sending urgently needed medical supplies to respond to the sick and support already overstretched hospitals and clinics.
Hundreds of liters of rehydration fluids, water treatments, medicines and hospital supplies were transported to the Central Plateau on Thursday.
Hospitals are overwhelmed by sick patients; many others wait for care outside. World Vision has long-term programs in the region, but, to date, the aid agency has no reported casualties in its programs.
World Vision’s Emergency Response Health and Nutrition Manager, Dr. Estrella Serrano said there must be urgent intervention by the Government of Haiti and UN agencies.
“This is extremely worrying. Early reports indicate that many of the casualties showed few symptoms and, in some cases, died within 24 to 48 hours,” said Dr. Serrano. “If the epidemic makes its way to Port-au-Prince, where children and families are living in unsanitary, overcrowded camps, the results could be disastrous.”
World Vision is sending its water, sanitation and health teams to the region to do full assessments and is also coordinating its response with UNICEF, the Government of Haiti and other international aid agencies.
Theo Huitema, the head of World Vision’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector, said the water contamination must have been severe to cause death so rapidly. World Vision’s WASH sector is taking preventative steps immediately in all its camps in Port-au-Prince, including distributing soap, increasing hygiene promotion, and providing extra chlorination in the water.
“With an outbreak like this, we must react immediately; hygiene promotion and soap are two of the most crucial prevention measures you can implement quickly and effectively to prevent more deaths,” said Huitema.
Picture via Wikipedia