Direct Relief International today committed $250,000 in cash and sent a 20-ton emergency air shipment of essential medical supplies in response to the outbreak in Haiti of cholera, which public health officials today reported has claimed 253 lives and infected 3,015 people in the department of the Artibonite. See a video update
Direct Relief’s emergency air shipment contains medications and supplies requested by Partners in Health and Hospital Albert Schweitzer, which manage hospitals in the affected areas and have scaled up their efforts to treat cholera patients. Direct Relief also is working with the Haitian Ministry of Health and other public health officials throughout the country to provide supplies needed to treat cholera patients and prevent an expansion of the outbreak beyond the Artibonite. The Ministry’s Department of Pharmacy made an additional request for assistance today.
Cholera is spread through water and food contaminated by human waste. Efforts to contain the outbreak are centered on providing people with access to clean food and water, education about proper hygiene, oral rehydration, and antibiotics once the infection has progressed to a more severe stage. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warns of the spreading of cholera to slum areas, earthquake recovery camps, and across the border to the Dominican Republic.
Direct Relief also has distributed 2,000 hygiene kits for families who may be susceptible to infection. These kits contain basic products, including soap, shampoo, bleach, detergent, and feminine hygiene supplies, to support a family of five for one month.
Since the January quake, Direct Relief has provided over 450 tons of medical aid worth over $52 million to dozens of medical facilities throughout Haiti. In addition, Direct Relief established a grant program for local Haitian nongovernmental organizations providing essential services. This grant program has thus far furnished over $500,000 in cash grants to 25 locally run Haitian organizations.