How bad is the cholera epidemic in Haiti? According to official figures, since the outbreak three weeks ago, 1250 people have died from contracting cholera. An additional 52,715 are being treated, and 20,867 people hospitalized. Those are figures from the government.
To date, 36 cholera treatment centres (CTCs) and 61 smaller cholera treatment units (CTUs) are operational, while new Oral Rehydration Centres (ORC) are being established daily. Health partners continue to support the MSPP and the Government of Haiti through implementation of the national cholera response plan. To support health promotion activities, WHO/PAHO has distributed 97,000 posters and 150,000 laminated pages with guidance on cholera prevention and treatment. These resources have been distributed to government agencies and NGOs in affected departments. In metropolitan Port-au-Prince, 11 of the 14 planned CTCs have been constructed. Although their bed capacity is limited, CTUs serve as an important point of entry for triaging cholera cases. In Cite Soleil, AVSI and Samaritan’s Purse are operating ORC; Samaritan’s Purse is also running a CTC in Cite Soleil, with a 100 bed capacity.
Despite these efforts, the situation is getting worse, not better. Ivan Grayton of Doctors Without Borders says the number of cholera cases in the capital is “on the upswing..We’re seeing 15 to 20 per cent more cases every day in parts of the capital.” And in the meantime, as of yesterday, the United Nations has only received 10 percent of an $164 million emergency appeal to fight the epidemic.
From UN humanitarian coordinator in Haiti Nigel Fisher:
“Cholera is an extremely simple disease to cure, and the case mortality rate of 2.4 per cent in medical facilities shows that almost all patients receiving help are surviving,” said Mr Fisher. “Without medical help, the mortality rate will increase dramatically. Oral rehydration salts or home-made sugar-salt solutions are enough to treat 80 per cent of the cases. If we can provide timely treatment to patients we can save lives,” he added.
The Pan American Health Organization will brief reporters tomorrow. This will probably get worse before it gets better.