On the one-year anniversary of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, U.N. deputy special envoy Dr. Paul Farmer has declared the country’s cholera outbreak is now the worst in the world and is on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death by infectious disease in Haiti.
While cholera cholera cases have been gradually declining over the past few months, heavy rains in southwest of Haiti over the past weeks have lead to a spike in the number of cholera cases in the region. The Grand’Anse and Sud departments located on the extreme western tip of Haiti have had a large number of patients arriving into health facilities to be treated for cholera over the past week. A 37-bed government-run clinic in Randel has been overburdened by patients and is lacking the medical supplies needed to treat them.
In response to a plea for help from the Haiti epidemic advisory system, a forum of over 850 government officials and international organizations who are collectively tracking and responding to the epidemic, Direct Relief has mobilized its in-country team to pick, pack, and transport the essential medical supplies to the affected areas in order to treat 100 patients. These items will include powdered Drip-Drop oral rehydration solutions, lactated ringers, IV needles and tubing, soap, bleach, and antibiotics.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, since cholera arrived in Haiti one year ago it has sickened over 440,000 people (nearly five percent of the population) and killed more than 6,300 people. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cholera will continue to spike seasonally during the rainy season especially as 600,000 people still remain in tent camps and only 17 percent of the population has access to a latrine following the January 2010 earthquake.
In the past year, Direct Relief International has provided enough antibiotics, oral rehydration solutions, and IV fluids to treat over 100,000 people for cholera, which equates to over 20 percent of those who have been affected throughout the country.
Additionally, Direct Relief has sent six cholera preparation packs to store in its in-country warehouse that will be dispatched as soon as an outbreak occurs in any part of the country. This will help to curb any future spikes in cholera during upcoming rainy seasons.
The wholesale value of these cholera-specific items totals over $5 million.