Responding to the Latest Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Direct Relief’s emergency response team recently sent 600 gallons of bleach and 200 buckets with spigots to its partner Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS Haiti) to help prevent the spread of cholera as the latest outbreak continues.

Cholera is a highly-contagious waterborne disease that can kill a person within hours if not properly treated. However, with swift medical care and the right supplies, 80 percent of cases can be successfully cured.

Because the bacteria has a short incubation period, cholera often has an explosive pattern of outbreaks, especially during the rainy season, which lasts from May through October. Using bleach helps neutralize fresh pulses of active bacteria that may be brought to new areas.

When HAS Haiti first noticed the outbreak in late July at their clinic in Bastien (a rural mountain community), they kept their remote clinics closest to the outbreak open around the clock.

Their staff told Direct Relief they were worried they did not have enough bleach to disinfect homes and treat water sources that flow to the lower Artibonite Valley of Haiti where 345,000 people live.

Direct Relief was able to respond to the request within 24 hours because of its stock of supplies housed in its Haiti warehouse and fast response for donations from its corporate supporter, The Clorox Company. This allowed HAS Haiti to maintain adequate stock and provide continuous care in an urgent situation.

HAS Haiti reports they are getting about 10-15 new cases each day, which is still manageable, however, the rates are not slowing down as the outbreak continues to evolve.

They are working to stabilize active cases and prevent new ones through community hygiene education, water treatment, and disinfection of homes. Management Sciences for Health is also helping distribute the supplies.

Direct Relief’s team continues to monitor the situation and is prepared to ship additional products and medicines.

The ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti has killed more than 8,000 people and affected 600,000 since it was reintroduced in the country in October 2010.

Direct Relief has worked with HAS Haiti since the 2010 Haiti earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. It has steadily supplied the hospital and it’s satellite clinics with multiple large shipments of medicines and supplies each year to help HAS Haiti treat people in need.

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