Cholera Strikes Again

Just mention – Haiti – and many folks will think about the earthquake that devastated the country three years ago this month.
Though the quake and its aftermath continue to reverberate across Haiti, to be honest, that was a long time ago, especially if you’re marking time on a calendar by crisis.  Recent hurricanes and the continued threat of Cholera, really highlight how fragile the health system remains for Haitians, especially for those living in remote areas.

This month, Cholera flared in a region where Heart to Heart helped to beat it back in 2010/2011.  For the past few weeks, our in-country staff has been responding to an outbreak in the remote, mountainous Southeast area of Haiti.

What follows are excerpts from a report on the flare-up from HHI’s Executive Director in Haiti Steve Weber:


Inside a Cholera Treatment CenterPhoto: A patient lies in a Cholera Treatment Center bed,
while a health care worker sprays disinfectant

STEVE: Bottom line… Cholera has struck right in the heart of Cascade Pichon, and the surrounding villages of upper Pichon.  There is a Government Cholera Treatment Center at Bel Anse on the coast, but it’s located about two hours by car from our clinic at Cascade Pichon in the mountains.

We left Port-au-Prince with our country director Christophe Rodrigue, our public health nurse Louise Polidor, Jon Campbell from One5Foundation, and one of our American Volunteer MDs.  We met with our 15 village health workers in the area, interviewed approximately 40 of the 52 cholera patients in the immediate area of our clinic at Cascade Pichon.  And we also interviewed the families of several of the 16 deceased cholera victims of the cholera in the area.

The next day my team continued on to Bel Anse to tour the government hospital there. This story is worth telling in its own right.  Two courageous government doctors were at the hospital. Overwhelmed with patients, one of two doctor’s contract had finished on December 31, but he was remaining – without pay – to attempt to deal with the emergency. Most of the 52 cholera victims from Cascade Pichon owe their lives to this wonderful young man who is staying way beyond his December 31 contract completion date….the others doctors had left.  
If we do nothing else, we must protect and save as many lives as possible in the area immediately surrounding our clinic at Cascade Pichon.

Cholera Education HaitiSo, what happens now?

Supplies are arriving this week to mount an attack on cholera, and to support the one Cholera Treatment Center in the region.  We’re deploying a Haitian medical team, that includes a public health nurse, and will use a three prong attack:  Prevent, Educate & Treat.
It’s similar to how we beat back cholera in the region in 2010/2011.  Let’s hope it works.