Cholera Epidemic In Haiti Far From Over

Cholera patients at MSF's cholera treatment center in the Delmas 33 area of Port au Prince.

Cholera patients at MSF's cholera treatment center in the Delmas 33 area of Port au Prince.
News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Mon. June 6, 2011: The cholera epidemic in Haiti is far from over, with a sharp increase in cases seen in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and outbreaks reported elsewhere in the country.

That’s the word from te international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The organization says while the cholera epidemic in Haiti began to decline in February, it has not yet ended and since mid-May, medical teams in Port-au-Prince have witnessed an increase.

By the end of May cholera had killed nearly 5,000 people from among the 300,000 cases reported in the country. Three percent of the country’s population has contracted the disease.

“Since May 29 – in one week – MSF has treated almost 2,000 patients in the capital, and we have also been asked to intervene in other areas in the interior of the country,” said MSF head of mission, Romain Gitenet. “Workload should be shared and coordinated in order to increase cholera treatment capacity in Haiti. Too many public facilities are still inadequate.”

MSF had to reopen emergency more centers to prevent existing treatment centers in Carrefour, Delmas, Martissant, Cité Soleil and Drouillard from being overwhelmed, the organization said.

MSF is urging Haitian authorities and their humanitarian partners to mobilize to stop the spread of the disease by strengthening national surveillance systems and treatment facilities.

They urged for immediate improvements in hygiene, sanitation, and drinking water supplies should be a national priority, in order to protect the most vulnerable people.

”Vigilance is still the best protection,” said Gitenet. “People must be strict about their hygiene and drink treated water. As soon as cholera symptoms appear, such as vomiting and diarrhea, it is vital that people go as quickly as possible to a treatment center. Cholera is treatable, but without medical care it kills quickly.”

MSF says it has treated 130,000 Haitians for cholera or 43 percent of total cases.