I received the following email from Partners in Health a short while ago. The numbers are shocking. With hurricane season in full swing, the cholera epidemic is more dire than ever.
From Partners in Health (PIH)
As you may be aware, a second wave of cholera is battering Haiti. What you may not know is just how severe it is. The numbers are dramatic:
In April, the cholera clinics we support treated 3,932 patients.
In June, these same clinics treated 14,425 patients.
The reason for this spike is simple. Flash floods—a side effect of the rainy season, deforestation, and decades of ineffective foreign aid—have spread the disease among water sources. In the absence of water and sanitation systems, or in many cases even basic latrines, cholera runs unchecked.
Faced with a crisis that strains their capacity to the breaking point, the staff of Zanmi Lasante, Partners In Health’s Haitian sister organization, continue to demonstrate astounding stamina and strength. In a recent message posted on the PIH blog Dr. Louise Ivers, who has long helped lead our efforts in Haiti, underscored the urgency:
“The Mirebalais cholera treatment center saw five times as many patients in June as in May. Alerts are the norm again—with emails and text messages reporting areas with minimal access to services suffering from high numbers of cases. Zanmi Lasante’s community teams are on high alert—spending hours on foot to reach difficult, isolated places, providing oral rehydration solution, training community health workers, distributing water purification tablets, disinfecting houses—but it is never enough. The cholera treatment centers were overwhelmed last month and although staff are dedicated, hardworking and committed, it is never enough. Once again, Zanmi Lasante is back in crisis mode, doing whatever we can to address the issues at hand, but it is never enough.
Since last year, we’ve been advocating to use all of the possible tools against cholera in a complementary and comprehensive way to reduce deaths and to minimize the impact of the disease…We are delighted that our proposal, in collaboration with GHESKIO (a Haitian, Port-au-Prince based NGO), to pilot the use of cholera vaccine in Haiti was supported last week by the Pan American Health Organization. Now we have to set about securing doses of the vaccine and implementing the project with the Haitian government.”
Today, I’m writing to ask for your help in raising public awareness of this crisis.
PIH/ZL cannot end the cholera epidemic alone. But with your help we can ensure that Haiti stays in the hearts and minds of the United Nations officials, international donors, and the millions of Americans who donated following the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
Learn more about cholera in Haiti and how it can be stopped:
Director of Communications
Partners In Health