Treating Haiti's Cholera

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PIH Facilities Treat over 5,400 Cholera Patients in August
by Partners In Health
PIH/ZL's 15 cholera treatment facilities saw a drop of nearly 60 percent in patient hospitalizations in August, as the number of new cases reverted to the levels recorded before the beginning of the rainy season.  
 
PIH/ZL is building CTC's with concrete floors and tin roofs, a sign that cholera will be in Haiti for the foreseeable future.
 
The steep decline in hospitalizations confirmed predictions that the epidemic can be expected to fluctuate along with changes in rainfall, flooding, and other factors.
 
But the 5,400 hospitalizations in August – comparable to the baseline average of 4,900 during the dry months between February and May – highlighted the harsh reality that cholera will be in Haiti for the foreseeable future.
 
The bacteria have contaminated the lakes, rivers, and canals that millions of people rely on for water to drink and bathe. Heavy rains or tropical storms could well trigger another spike in cholera cases and deaths before the rainy season ends in November.
 

Steps necessary to confront a deadly disease

PIH/ZL has continued to implement and advocate for the comprehensive package of prevention and treatment measures needed to combat cholera. At the local level, PIH/ZL has stepped up hiring and training of community health workers to reinforce hygiene education and quickly identify cases in poor and isolated communities. And PIH/ZL's cholera treatment facilities are being moved from tents to solid wooden structures with concrete foundations and sheet-metal roofs.
 
On the national and international scale, PIH/ZL continues to advocate for investment in the municipal water and sanitation systems that are needed to provide reliable access to clean water. PIH/ZL continues working with other organizations to mobilize support and resources for another key element of a comprehensive prevention and treatment strategy – vaccination.
 
A cheap, effective oral cholera vaccine exists. But only a limited number of doses are available. A coalition of international medical and public health experts led by PIH co-founder Paul Farmer has called for development of a two million dose stockpile for Haiti and a 10 million dose global stock to combat cholera around the world. PIH/ZL has teamed up with GHESKIO, a longtime partner based in Port-au-Prince, to plan a 100,000-patient pilot vaccination campaign targeting vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas.

One of the new cholera-related buildings under construction in Mirebalais.

Tens of thousands continue to suffer

The decline in hospitalizations from 12,649 in July to 5,400 in August at PIH/ZL clinics mirrors the MSPP’s updated cholera numbers for the entire country. In August, roughly 20,000 people contracted cholera nationally, compared to the 50,000 new cases seen in July.  

Since the first cholera cases were reported last October, just over 440,000 Haitians have contracted the disease and nearly 6,300 have died.
 
Learn more about PIH’s cholera response.

 

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