Posts Tagged ‘Cholera’

CRS Responds to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Relatives of Haitians suffering from cholera wait for news outside a local hospital in the town of Saint Marc. Photo by Reuters/Felix Evens, courtesy

A cholera outbreak in central Haiti has left 250 people dead and more than 3,000 ill. Haitian president Rene Preval confirmed the outbreak on Friday, October 22, after first reports of the illness and deaths were made in St. Marc in the southern Artibonite department, the center of the Cholera spate about 60-miles northwest of Port-au-Prince.

Health officials now fear the spread of the disease to the camps of Port-au-Prince, where more than one million displaced people still live. Poor sanitation and hygiene in the settlements make people there particularly vulnerable to the disease, which causes diarrhea and vomiting so severe that it can kill a person within hours. The Associated Press stated that five cholera patients have been reported in Haiti’s capital, but government officials said Sunday that all five apparently contracted cholera outside Port-au-Prince.

Catholic Relief Services mobilized a massive response just 1 day after the cholera outbreak was confirmed. CRS and partner staff went tent to tent in 12 camps in Port-au-Prince, distributing three bars of soap each to more than 10,000 families (more than 50,000 people) and reaching as many people through an information campaign (simple flyers in Creole) that promotes hand washing and personal hygiene.

CRS’ health team, with colleagues from the University of Maryland, has also been working to help 7 CRS supported hospitals around the country prepare to respond to a possible influx of cholera patients.

Cholera Outbreak near St. Marc, Haiti

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

An outbreak of Cholera began in Haiti’s Artibonite region earlier this week. The most recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) are of 157 deaths and more than 1,567 infected.

According to media reports, substantial numbers of cases have been seen at St. Nicholas Hospital in St. Marc and the hospital in Petite Riviere (30km east). Both hospitals are supported by US-based Partners in Health (Paul Farmer’s NGO).

Cases in Mirebelais (86km from St Marc and 40km from greater Port-au-Prince) have also been confirmed today. It is not yet clear if transmission is occurring in Mirebelais or if people from the St. Marc area are seeking care there.

At the request of the Haitian government, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the humanitarian community have begun responding. Medical teams have been mobilized, and medical supplies are being provided to the local hospitals.  Ten thousand boxes of water purification tablets, 2,500 jerry cans, and 2,500 buckets and hygiene kits are being distributed. Re-hydration salt sachets have also been distributed. Teams are traveling to the area to assist the local authorities in making a detailed assessment of needs and further assistance will be provided accordingly. The UN managed Health Cluster reports a stock of 300,000 courses of antibiotics.

There has been discussion in Haiti of establishing ring containment (“cordon sanitaire”) (similar to quarantine) to restrict further spread.

CRS’ Role

CRS does not currently have any health presence in or near the affected area. Our closest partners are Hopital Alma Mater in Gros Morne (83km north) and Hopital St Francois de Sales in Port-au-Prince (96km south).

CRS is in contact with the WHO situation room and is preparing to respond to requests if and how our help is needed.

Currently, CRS is not directly involved in the response in the affected areas. The focus now is on preparation in the event our help is needed or the outbreak spreads to Port-au-Prince.

The team is focusing on keeping staff and their families safe. The CRS/Haiti Staff Safety and Security team shared information about the fatal diarrhea outbreak with all staff on October 21 (at that time reported as likely dysentery). Subsequently the health team has prepared and shared information with staff on prevention and mitigation of diarrhea.

The health team is verifying stocks of key supplies and equipment (IV solution, gloves, antibiotics, cots, etc).

The Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) team is working on key messaging (handwashing, use of safe water (bottled/boiled), how to make/use of oral rehydration salts) for populations in Port-au-Prince.

Beginning today and continuing over the weekend, the WASH team will conduct emergency distributions of soap in the settlements in Port-au-Prince, increase the quantity of water delivered, spray all sanitation and hygiene facilities with chlorine solutions, and conduct awareness sessions.

CRS has restricted staff movement to and from St. Marc and Mirebelais to only immediate operational requirements.

Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic Claims More Victims

Monday, February 9th, 2009

The update to our Zimbabwe cholera story is not a good one.

“The World Health Organisation said the epidemic has killed 3,397 people out of 69,317 cases since August, the deadliest outbreak in Africa in 15 years,” according to this Reuters story, courtesy of AlertNet.

Zimbabwe Cholera Worsens, Kills CRS Worker

Friday, December 12th, 2008

We are deeply saddened to learn this morning that one of our CRS staff in Zimbabwe contracted cholera and died. His father died of cholera just days before. Our prayers go out to his family and co-workers.

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is worsening. The latest death toll is about 780 people with about 16,000 affected thus far.

The cholera epidemic is the latest blow to Zimbabweans reeling from a catastrophic unemployment rate, inflation, and deterioration of social and protection infrastructure.

Zimbabwe is just one of more than 100 countries whose people you help when you partner with CRS in reaching the world’s poorest. The global financial crisis has, of course, hurt everyone. It has made helping more difficult even as it increases the desperation of needy people. If you are at all inclined and able to help, know that what may seem an insignificant amount to you is nothing less than life-saving. Even a little bit can make a big difference.