Cholera In Haiti: Cases Stabilize But Conditions Remain Desperate

A young Haitian girl with cholera symptoms
A young Haitian girl with cholera symptoms

At PIH's medical facilities, she said, there has been, on average, a steady population of 400 patients a day requiring hospitalization. But, she added, "the number (of patients) has been about the same for the past few days. "There hasn't been a dramatic increase or decrease," she said, and the organization is "seeing slightly less severe cases; more people are going to hospital for services when they are more ambulatory."

She said PIH is working with community health workers, the Haitian Ministry of Health and Doctors Without Borders to conduct a widespread community education and mobilization effort to get the message out about hand-washing and using clean water and toilet facilities. The groups are also distributing water purification packets and oral rehydration salts. But with "no plan to truck in clean water," there is still the potential for the epidemic to worsen, she said.

She said the Ministry of Health has a three-part plan to deal with sick patients. It will:

-- Set up a post where people have have quick, easy access to oral hydration solution
--Establish a center for intravenous hydration
--Send patients with more severe diarrea and dehydration symptoms to treatment centers

When asked what the chances are that the epidemic could hit Port-au-Prince and spiral out of control, Dr. Ivers said it is still possible that the epidemic could be contained. "I don't think it's inevitable there will be a more widespread outbreak in the capital," she said. "But I think it is inevitable there will be more cases."

Still, with so many transient families living in the densely packed camps, with limited access to soap, clean water and proper toilets, at this point, public health officials tell NPR, they are preparing for the worst.

This program aired on October 25, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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