Cholera In Haiti: New Cases, Deaths Up Sharply

As cholera spreads through Port-au-Prince, Haitian schoolchildren are taught about the water-bourne illness and how to avoid it
As cholera spreads through Port-au-Prince, Haitian schoolchildren are taught about the water-bourne illness and how to avoid it

Earlier today, Partners In Health’s Chief of Mission in Haiti Dr. Louise Ivers spoke to reporters on the status of the ongoing outbreak and PIH’s response. She said that the situation has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, with clear signs that the outbreak has spread to the crowded slums and settlement camps in Port-au-Prince. According to the latest report from the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, a total of 12,303 people have been hospitalized and 796 have died since the outbreak began.

The number of new cholera cases and the death toll have both risen sharply in recent days. Roughly 1,000 new cases have been reported each day this week. The disease has been confirmed among nearly 200 people in Port-au-Prince, and there is great concern that the disease will spread rapidly among more than a million people who have been living in overcrowded settlement camps with limited access to clean water and sanitation since the January earthquake. More than 700 people have died and more than 11,000 have fallen ill since the epidemic first began in October.

PIH has seen dozens of cases in Parc Jean-Marie Vincent, the largest of the four settlement camps where we work in Port-au-Prince. Our teams are carrying out intensive education and prevention campaigns with camp residents and have set up a separate Cholera Treatment Unit (CTU) to provide care for patients. Outside the capital, PIH is rapidly strengthening cholera treatment capacity at all of our sites, as the number of new cases is increasing in the Artibonite and Central Plateau.

Other highlights of recent updates from PIH staff in Haiti include:

• In Port-au-Prince, we are seeing a steady stream of cases with classic clinical symptoms of cholera. Of the first 32 patients seen at the CTU in Parc Jean-Marie Vincent, many had come from outside the camp. PIH is directing medical operations at the CTU. The British Red Cross is taking responsibility for water and sanitation.

• In the Central Plateau, a Cholera Treatment Center has been established in Mirebalais and is being operated jointly by the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), Partners In Health, and a Cuban medical team, with support from Medishare and J/P HRO (Jenkins Penn Haitian Relief Organization.)

• In the Artibonite Valley, an increasing number of cases is being reported from communities in the Upper Artibonite, outside the area around St.-Marc where the outbreak began in October. PIH operates the hospital in St.-Marc and two other facilities in the Lower Artibonite in partnership with the MSPP.

This program aired on November 12, 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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