In October of 2010, a deadly strain of CHOLERA was introduced into Haiti’s water system, unleashing a wave of panic, fear, sickness, sadness and death on Haiti’s population.
As of March 2012, according to health officials, over 530,000 people have been infected with the disease since October 2010, with the death toll rising to more than 7,000 and around 77 new cases reported each day in March.
The immediate dangers: people who are not clear about what cholera is and how to deal with it can die from dehydration within four hours. With information on how to prevent catching cholera and what do if infection is suspected, people do not have to die. But without that, people continue to be at great risk of infection and rapid death as cholera seems to gain new ground with each rainy season.
Our Program provides what’s needed so people don’t have to die.
November 2010, our Haitian partners instantly mobilized on the subject of cholera, educating themselves first and then designing informational presentation where people could come and get their questions answered and leave with a kit of items in hand that would start them on their way to doing what people must to avoid getting sick. This works. People with knowledge plus the items needed to maintain hygiene stay alive and keep each other alive. Our team is poised and ready to go.
The epidemic is not over. Many NGOs have reduced their cholera response activities since the decline in infection rate during the winter’s dry season – we did, too. This puts Haitians at particular risk now, with the rainy season upon us again. While some people have the information they need to prevent themselves and their families from catching cholera and/or dying from it, the situation is not stabilized. People lapse into old habits, and many outlying areas have not yet been reached by information or medical assistance, so people are still dying where information could make the difference. Our work can and does impact this, but only when we are sufficiently supported to carry it out.
Cholera in Haiti is a horror story, but doesn’t have to continue. With our Cholera Information & Prevention Program, our commitment is to continue saturating the population, in Port-au-Prince and rural areas, with the important information about this disease — the dangers of cholera, what to do to avoid it, what to do if you or a family member catches it, and, unfortunately, what to do if someone dies from it.
The kits cost under 25¢ per family to give away and contain hand soap, a 3 oz dropper-top bottle of concentrated chlorine solution to use to disinfect water and information provided by UNICEF on how to deal with the disease. We got started right away in November of 2010 and with support from The Global Fund for Children, we did more in 2011, but there is much more to accomplish. People who attend our programs leave secure in the knowledge that they can take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe from dying. Our work isn’t done until everyone in Haiti has and is using the information they need to be safe.
From informing the public on what they must do now to designing and installing waste and water management systems in the future, it may take years to effectively eradicate cholera in Haiti. Our teams are determined to continue this program for as long as necessary, so lives don’t have to be lost. Kledèv is committed to supporting Haitian communities to prepare them to keep themselves and their families safe from this and other diseases, and to make prevention a regular part of the future of life in Haiti.