Direct Relief International is urgently delivering needed medical aid to partners in Haiti responding to the fast-moving cholera outbreak. Partner health facilities and news reports have indicated that more than 140 people have already died in the few days since the outbreak began. While the outbreak is currently in the central plateau, about 60 miles north of Port-au-Prince, the fear is that cholera will spread quickly among the hundreds of thousands of people still living in camps after the January earthquake.
Hospital Albert Schweitzer and Partners in Health in St. Marc and St. Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince have requested materials to treat the diarrheal disease, which can quickly become fatal as a patient becomes dehydrated. The materials include IV sets and solutions, oral rehydration solutions for adults and children, antibiotics, soap, bleach, masks, gloves, and water purification tablets.
With Direct Relief’s relationships and systems put in place in response to the January 2010 earthquake, the organization is ideally positioned to expedite this urgently needed aid. Hurricane modules, which contain such items as oral rehydration solution and other appropriate products, were pre-positioned in June with Partners in Health, St. Damien Children’s Hospital, and Justinian University Hospital in Cap-Haitien (north of the outbreak).
Seven ocean freight containers are in port in Haiti now, with four containing materials that can be used to help cholera patients. Direct Relief is also working to source urgently needed material to air freight to Haiti. The organization is coordinating efforts with the Haitian Ministry of Health and Georges Dubuche of Management Sciences for Health to expedite the response and save lives.
Cholera spreads through compromised water and sanitation systems; it is believed that this outbreak has originated near the Artibonite River. With more than 1,500 cases reported so far, the outbreak could reach tragic proportions if it hits the nearby camps in Port-au-Prince.