Cholera Hits Cameau, Haiti
The cholera outbreak in Haiti has spread to the community of Cameau, a long-time recipient of Canadian Feed The Children support. As of November 19, 28 people in Cameau have fallen ill including 16 children and there have been three adult deaths.
Our work in cholera-afflicted Haiti
Our partner, Organisation de la Mission Evangelique Salem (OMES), runs several health clinics in Cameau and Thor, Haiti where they focus on the prevention and treatment of malnutrition and nutritional education, as well as providing medication, vaccinations, agricultural development and general health support.
OMES also runs mobile medical clinics in Cameau, Thor and surrounding areas that have been supported by Canadian Feed The Children for many years. OMES’s clinics and mobile clinics are delivering medication, oral rehydration solution and health education to those affected or at risk of cholera. They are currently ramping up these clinics and will require additional medications including oral serum, Vitamin A, micronutrients, water treatment tablets and bottles, among other supplies.
The projects run by OMES and others operating in the region are a critical front-line defense for the prevention, early identification and treatment of cholera. OMES is also planning on delivering consultations with local health care workers throughout the region more frequently and increasing the number of health education sessions they offer to the community on hygiene, sanitation and water treatment to help people understand the symptoms of cholera and how to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
Since cholera hit Haiti, the people of Cameau have been using water from a well installed by Canadian Feed The Children through the generous support of Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute and our Best.Gift.Ever donors, instead of the potentially contaminated water from the Bethel River. This, we hope, has helped to slow the spread of the disease. Clean, safe drinking water and proper sanitation are some of the most important ways to keep communities healthy.
The current status of cholera in Haiti
The latest details from the Haitian Ministry for Health released on November 22, indicate:
- there have now been 1,344 deaths in Haiti due to cholera
- the number of hospitalizations has increased to more than 2,100
- the epidemic as a whole has affected 57,000 Haitians
- in Port-au-Prince, there have been 46 confirmed deaths
- the mortality rate from cholera in Haiti is currently running at 4% to 5%.
According to a physician with the Pan-American Organization of Health (PAO), it is estimated that cholera could infect 200,000 people and cause up to 10,000 deaths within the next six to 12 months without improvement in intervention and prevention of the spread of the disease.
Facts about cholera
Cholera is a bacterial infection. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission is primarily through consuming contaminated drinking water or food.
The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
If people with cholera are treated quickly and properly, the mortality rate is less than one per cent, however, with untreated cholera, the mortality rate can rise to as much as 50 to 60 per cent. If untreated, cholera can result in death in less than a few hours especially among already under-nourished or ill individuals.
How is cholera treated?
Primary treatment is with oral rehydration solution (salt and water) or, in more severe cases, intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are sometimes used to shorten the duration of illness or to lessen symptom severity. There are also a number of safe and effective oral vaccines for cholera available.
Cholera is easily treated with inexpensive medicines, including remedies that can be prepared at home, however its spread can only be halted where there is a good understanding and availability of proper sanitation, an awareness of the early signs of the disease, how it spreads and how to treat it.
Because of the nature of the disease, access to clean, safe drinking water, sanitary latrines, proper sewage treatment and the appropriate handling and disposal of cholera-contaminated bedding, clothing or other materials is critical.
How can you help?
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Hurricane Tomas and now the cholera outbreak, Haiti continues to be at high risk and in high need of humanitarian aid as well as longer-term support. Seeds for the coming planting season, along with agricultural, health education, nutrition and medication/vaccination programs are urgently required.
Those interested in helping the people of Haiti as they contend with these immense challenges may donate online, or call 1-800-387-1221 to speak to a Supporter Services Representative.
The partners Canadian Feed The Children currently support in Haiti, including OMES, are active in the areas of disease prevention, treatment and health education. Donations will be directed to these programs as needed.
Or, consider selecting a gift from the Best.Gift.Ever catalogue. One of the following gifts will help to alleviate the particular needs of the people of Haiti:
- pre- and post-natal care ($100);
- providing a family water source ($60);
- stocking a health clinic ($500) or mobile health clinic ($7,000);
- or providing a share of a community water well ($2,000).