Haiti Cholera Outbreak Update

1 Comment » Written on October 25th, 2010     
Filed under: Disaster Relief
From our partner, Medical Teams International, on the great work they are doing in Haiti, especially in regards to the recent cholera outbreak.

As you can imagine, there were several developments over the weekend in our response to the cholera crisis in Haiti. This update is designed to inform you all of the good work our staff and volunteers are doing to combat this cholera outbreak, and to give you a better understanding of how to pray for our staff and volunteers in Haiti.

Cholera causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be fatal in a matter of hours.  Modern sewage and water treatment have virtually eliminated cholera in industrialized countries.

The risk of cholera epidemic is highest when poverty, war or natural disasters force people to live in crowded conditions without adequate sanitation. The last cholera outbreak in Haiti was over 50 years ago.

The outbreak in Haiti started in the rural communities of the L’Artibonite region (about an hour north of Port-au-Prince, the capital). A local river was tested and determined to be contaminated. Cholera is easily treated. Death results from severe dehydration that can be prevented with a simple and inexpensive rehydration solution.

Medical Teams International’s Response Updates:

1. Up to 30 volunteer medical professionals, organized by MTI-Haiti, are living in tents on a beach near the cholera infected area. As a matter of fact, they are about 20 minutes drive from the area. MTI – Haiti has organized a cook and other essential services for the volunteers in order to provide them with everything needed to do their work. MTI is working in up to 4 hospitals taking regular shifts in order to provide quality care to people suffering from cholera.

2. Several partner agencies and expat medical professionals already in Haiti are joining our effort.

3. Volunteer teams continue to serve. One team just arrived and is split up among 4 hospitals. Our staff are being very careful to pace themselves and our volunteers in order to avoid burnout and illness.

4. Supplies – There are enough supplies for the time being. A plane from Miami is bringing in 400 cases of solution, organized by a corps of relief agencies. The Commodity Support Group is working to procure more supplies but will get approval from the field before sending.

5. Dr Yodi Alakija, a cholera specialist for the US who teamed up with MTI, conducted a local radio broadcast for communities on how to prevent contracting and spreading cholera. She was supposed to speak for only 15 minutes, but was on the broadcast for 45 minutes. It was very successful. Education prevention is very important as there is a growing fear that cholera will spread into the many displaced people camps in and around Port-au-Prince following the devastating earthquake. It would be extremely difficult to contain the disease if it enters the camps.

6. International media groups are contacting our team members and staff for interviews. Some have already been interviewed.

7. The Disaster Response Group is busy putting together another team to support this effort.  The team will be made up of 1 doctor, 2 nurses, and 2 paramedics. We anticipate this next team to leave within the next couple of days.

8. Our partner, Union of Evangelical Baptists of Haiti (UEBH) is organizing church leaders/ church staff in every town in the L’Artibonite region (where the cholera outbreak is centered) to make sure that those who are showing symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting are sent to a clinic for treatment.

9. The official report is 250 people have died with over 3100 people with the disease. MTI’s country director has heard that the death toll is actually higher, up to 350 people.

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One Response to “Haiti Cholera Outbreak Update”

praying that this won’t spread.

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