2,000 patients treated in one week The Haitian cholera epidemic is far from over. A sharp increase in cases has been seen in the capital and outbreaks have been reported elsewhere in the country. Although the cholera epidemic that began in October last year in Haiti began to decline this February, it has not yet ended. In MSF cholera treatment centres in Port-au-Prince, teams have in fact seen an increase in cases since mid-May.
MSF had to reopen emergency cholera treatment centres to prevent existing treatment centres in Carrefour, Delmas, Martissant, Cité Soleil and Drouillard from being overwhelmed. "Since May 29, in one week, MSF has treated almost 2,000 patients in the capital, and we have also been asked to intervene in other areas in the interior of the country. Workload should be shared and coordinated in order to increase cholera treatment capacity in Haiti. Too many public facilities are still inadequate," says MSF head of mission Romain Gitenet. It is essential that the authorities and their humanitarian partners mobilize to stop the spread of the disease by strengthening the national surveillance system and treatment facilities. Immediate improvements in hygiene, sanitation and drinking water supply should be a national priority, in order to protect the most vulnerable people.
But for Gitenet, "vigilance is still the best protection. People must be strict about their hygiene and drink treated water. As soon as cholera symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea appear, it is vital to go as quickly as possible to a treatment centre. Cholera is treatable, but without medical care it kills quickly." As of the end of May, cholera has killed nearly 5,000 people from among the 300,000 cases reported in the country. Three per cent of the country’s population has contracted the disease. MSF has treated 130,000 Haitians for cholera (43 per cent of total cases). As soon as the first cases were confirmed in October 2010, MSF teams started working in nine of Haiti’s 10 departments to support local health facilities.