With now more than 80,000 cases of cholera recorded, of which 20,000 have required hospitalisation, World Vision continues its emergency response in Haiti. Some 1,817 people have succumbed to the illness.
Cholera cases have now been recorded in all 10 of Haiti’s ‘departments, with Artibonite, in central Haiti, the most affected area. The capital, Port-au-Prince is amongst the next highest affected locations.
The United Nations suggests 400,000 people could become affected, a doubling of their original estimate. The UN projects approximately half of these occurring in the first three months of the outbreak, which commenced in mid-October.
The island of La Gonave, which had recently been free of cholera, is now reporting cases and suspected cholera-related fatalities. In order to prevent an outbreak, World Vision health staff have rehydrated people, treated suspected cholera cases, and disinfected houses. Hygiene kits have been distributed to families on the island and awareness campaigns, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, are ongoing.
A Cholera Treatment Unit and Cholera Treatment Centre are being established on the island.
"Cholera is currently the biggest threat facing survivors of Haiti's earthquake. World Vision, together with the rest of the international community, is treating the response to this outbreak as an absolute priority. We're not surprised by it, but we are taking it very, very seriously,” said Tristan Clements, of World Vision Australia’s Humanitarian Emergency Affairs team.
World Vision continues its response to the epidemic, focusing on preventative and curative measures in its existing Area Development Programs (ADPs) and earthquake response operations. Its preventative approach includes training for health clinic staff, community leaders, and in schools and relief camps. So far, approximately 4,600 children have been taught about preventing the spread of the disease.
World Vision has also distributed hygiene kits, water treatment supplies, and soap to relief camp populations and established hand washing stations in relief camps and public areas.
The establishment of vehicle disinfection stations, for trucks carrying human waste, has been essential to prevent the spread of cholera. At the World Vision established station at Truitier, just outside of Port-au-Prince, 350 trucks were sanitised in the past week.
World Vision also provides water services in 56 camps for 120,000 residents. Some 1.5 million litres of treated water is trucked to camps daily. This is part of normal programming, not set up specifically for the cholera outbreak. Enabling access to clean water is an essential part of stopping the spread of cholera.
Curative measures across Haiti have included the provision of medical supplies, medicines, and Oral Rehydration Salts to hospitals and other health units. In collaboration with a Catholic hospital, a Cholera Treatment Unit has been set up in Thomasique, in the Central Plateau department. World Vision has also established a CTU in Port-au-Prince, with additional CTUs opening next week, pending various permissions.
Since the outbreak of cholera on 20 October, World Vision has been co-ordinating with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies to respond to this ‘emergency within an emergency’.