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Haiti: Rains threathen revival of cholera epidemic

Plan's response to cholera in Haiti is ongoing since the first outbreak of the epidemic in October last year.
Plan's response to cholera in Haiti is ongoing since the first outbreak of the epidemic in October last year.
May 17, 2011

Nearly 5,000 Haitians have died from cholera since the outbreak in October of last year, with another 300,000 made ill by the disease. Now, Haiti is facing a further rise in cholera outbreaks as the approaching rainy season threatens to revive the epidemic.

Plan has been working since the onset of the outbreak to halt the spread of the disease, which is mostly due to a lack of clean water and poor access to health care. John Chaloner, Plan’s Country Director in Haiti said: “Since the beginning of the epidemic, Plan is making sure that vulnerable people, especially children, receive free access to safe and clean drinking water, lifesaving rehydration treatments near their homes, and key public health messages.”

In the North-east, West and South-east — three of Haiti’s ten administrative departments — Plan is working closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Health on cholera awareness, prevention and treatment.

Over the past months, Plan has delivered some 35,000 kits to families, each containing oral rehydration salts, soap, chlorine and drinking water containers along with instructions in Creole. Over 1,200 health workers have also been trained in how to manage strategically placed health sites, where anyone who has fallen ill can reach trained health personnel and access lifesaving rehydration treatment.

Plan Haiti is also providing and installing 1,000 gallon Tuff Tanks (water cisterns) in hundreds of schools and community health centers to ensure sustainable access to safe and clean drinking water for as many people as possible.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also warned that cholera cases could dramatically rise with the heavy rains expected between June and November. Plan has drawn attention to a wide funding gap for the $125 million UN cholera response appeal which has been only 48% covered by donors.

John Chaloner added: “All-around decreased funding for cholera from international donors is causing concern that the NGOs may not be able to adequately fill the gaps that the local health authorities cannot cover. The impact will be felt particularly in hard-to-reach communities, likely to be worst affected during the rainy season.”

The January 2010 earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. President Michel Martelly, inaugurated on May 14th, has said that stopping the cholera outbreak as well as relocating thousands of displaced people from camps would be two of his immediate priorities.

Learn more about Plan's response to the cholera epidemic in Haiti.