Direct Relief is shipping cholera treatment kits to Yemen, where over 200,000 suspected cholera cases have been reported across the country. That number could double over the next six months.
Cholera causes its victims to experience diarrhea and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration, which can often be fatal. The disease can crop up when local water supplies are compromised, and areas without safe water or sanitation can see a rapid spread of cases.
The problem can become even worse when displaced people live in close proximity to each other in overcrowded shelters or camps.
Using World Health Organization guidelines, Direct Relief designed a prepackaged kit containing all the necessary supplies to treat 100 cholera patients. Each kit has a wholesale cost of $5,500, breaking down to $55 per patient.
A severe case of the disease can become deadly within hours, but with access to safe drinking water and a few common medical supplies, such as oral rehydration salts and IV fluids, most of those who are infected can be easily treated.
Over 50 items are included in Direct Relief’s cholera treatment kit, each part of which works to:
Rehydrate a patient – Rehydration is the cornerstone of cholera treatment. Oral rehydration salts provide the patient with the essential salts and fluids needed to treat moderate cases of dehydration. According to the CDC, if administered in a timely manner with clean water, rehydration salts will reduce fatalities to under 1 percent of all patients. Intravenous fluids also rehydrate patients with extreme cases of dehydration, who are unable to drink water without vomiting, immediate intravenous rehydration is necessary.
Kill any infection present in the body – Key antibiotics like doxycycline and azithromycin are used to shorten the duration of diarrhea in severe cases and when IV solutions and rehydration aren’t enough to fight off bacteria.
Protect the patient and others from spreading the disease – Because cholera is highly contagious, it’s imperative that healthcare workers and other patients from also being exposed. Personal protective gear like gloves, coveralls and soaps accomplish this. Keeping drinking water safe also prevents the disease from spreading. World Health Organization-approved water purification tablets are included in each kit to purify drinking water.
Two of these kits have recently gone to places like South Sudan, a country torn apart by war and famine. Internally displaced people who have left their homes, out of fear for their safety or a lack of food, often arrive en masse to poorly equipped refugee camps, where cholera can spread.
Direct Relief is also shipping cholera treatment kits to Yemen, which could see as many as 300,000 cases over the next six months, according to the World Health Organization.
The deadly disease is easily treatable, with the right supplies at the right time. Direct Relief will continue to send cholera treatment kits across the world, wherever and whenever, they’re needed most.