Advisory: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Advisory: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

  |   Posted: January 26, 2011

UPDATE: Jan. 26, 2011 - Nearly 195,000 people throughout Haiti have been infected with cholera.  This has resulted in almost 4,000 deaths.

Though the epidemic has not reached its peak, the lowest number of deaths were reported Jan. 12-16, according to the World Health Organization. 

To date, nearly 250 Compassion-assisted children have been infected; 15 of these children died. The remaining children have recovered. 

At least 20 relatives of Compassion-assisted children have died and two child development center workers have also died due to cholera.

Compassion Haiti continues to respond to this epidemic. To date, the following items have been distributed to Compassion families and child development center workers:

  • Almost 35,000 water filters
  • 150,000 oral serums for rehydration
  • More than 550 boxes of soap
  • At least 36,000 purifying tablets

In addition, all Compassion centers have been provided with hand sanitizers and chlorine production machines to use during regular center activities and to give out to families as well.

Please pray for an end to this outbreak before any more lives are affected. Pray for healing for those who have been affected.

Compassion Haiti will keep us updated as more information is available.

Compassion International will contact you if your sponsored child has been affected.

UPDATE: Dec. 8, 2010 - While the overall number of cholera cases is still increasing, the percentage of infected people who are dying has decreased.

At the beginning of the epidemic, the percentage of deaths was as high as 9 percent; it is now down to around 3.5 percent, according to Haiti's Ministry of Health.

Since the outbreak, more than 90,000 people have been infected with cholera and treated; nearly 44,200 have been hospitalized and more than 2,000 people have died of the disease.

Over the past two weeks, more than 40 new cases of cholera infections have been reported among our Compassion-assisted children and their relatives. Most of them have recovered after receiving care.

To date, nearly 160 Compassion-assisted children have been affected by the cholera epidemic; over fifteen Compassion-assisted children have lost relatives.

In addition to the two Compassion-assisted children that have died from this disease, a Compassion tutor has also passed away because of cholera.

Over the last several days there have been demonstrations in Port-au-Prince over the recent election. So far, the demonstrations have not posed a significant obstacle to the cholera response.

This is what Compassion Haiti is doing in response to the cholera outbreak:

  • Training sessions on cholera prevention have been held in all the Compassion centers for Compassion-assisted center health specialists, Child Survival Program (CSP) nurses, center directors and pastors. Nearly 450 people have been equipped to handle this disease.
  • At least 6,660 water filters have been distributed to over 30 Compassion centers. Families are now using these filters in their homes.
  • Nearly every center has also been equipped with an intravenous rehydration kit to use in case of emergency. Many people have died because such an item was missing in treatment centers.
  • Each center will be provided with a megaphone to educate people in the remote communities as radio and TV are not present there.
  • A poster showing the steps for washing hands appropriately will be given to each family to hang on the wall of their homes.
  • During age-specific activities in Compassion centers, a special time will be set aside to educate children about preventive measures against cholera and practical sessions of washing hands.

UPDATE: Nov. 23, 2010 - The Ministry of Public Health has reported 1,250 deaths and 20,867 victims hospitalized due to the cholera epidemic.

More than 50 cholera treatment centers and units are operational across the country, as well as a number of rehydration stations.

It is now reported that more than 115 Compassion-assisted children have been affected by the cholera epidemic. At least 10 of these children have lost either one or two relatives.

At this time, two Compassion-assisted children are confirmed to have died from the disease.

Training sessions are still being held in the regions to raise awareness.

Along with distribution of water purifying tablets, oral serum and hand sanitizers, chlorine production machines for Compassion-assisted centers have also been distributed.
Training on how to use these machines has been conducted. The machines allow families to always have purified water at their disposal.

Last week civil unrest erupted. It has now been stabilized, although the protests slowed cholera prevention and treatment. A Compassion center was suspended from chlorinating water for 300,000 people living in and around the area until the violence subsided. This center is now reopened.

UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2010 - Cholera continues to spread rapidly throughout Haiti.

To date, cases have been confirmed in the following regions of the country:

  • North
  • Artibonite
  • Centre
  • Northeast
  • South
  • West

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), at least 14 cholera treatment centers are reported to be functioning in the West, Artibonite and Centre departments.

The WHO and the PAHO continue to work with the health cluster and other partners to increase prevention, sensitization and response to cholera across the country.

A standard operating procedure for reporting and identifying cases of severe diarrhea and/or cholera has been developed by the health cluster in response to the epidemic.

More than 90 Compassion-assisted children have been infected by cholera; one child has died.

Most of the children have recovered from the epidemic, and about 35 children are in the hospital receiving care.

Center directors and health specialists in the West region received formal training on the cholera epidemic. These directors will give this training to children and their families in their respective centers.

A delegation from the Compassion Haiti office is distributing supplies and conducting an awareness campaign to help people cope with the epidemic.

Centers in the North and West regions are authorized to disburse funds to buy oral serum, aqua tabs and soaps to distribute to the children and families.

UPDATE: Nov. 8, 2010 - At least 36 new cases of cholera have been discovered in the Artibonite, North and Northwest Compassion-assisted child development centers.

More than 25 Compassion-assisted children from centers HA-399 and HA-370 have cholera and are undergoing treatment.

Distribution of supplies and an awareness campaign to help people cope with the epidemic are continuing.

UPDATE: Nov. 4, 2010 - The Ministry of Health has now reported nearly 450 deaths and more than 6,700 hospitalizations from cholera.

The Ministry of Health has requested the collaboration of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and partners of the Health Cluster to prepare a response to the cholera epidemic  for a period of at least six months.

The ministry advised health partners to pay particular attention to the 1.5 million people living in camps and settlements as they are especially vulnerable.

On Nov. 3, more than 20 new cases of Compassion-assisted children were reported as ill with cholera. The children were taken to the hospital for intensive care.

Child development workers are monitoring the situation.

The Compassion Haiti office continues to respond to the cholera epidemic:

  • A public health specialist has been hired to coordinate the Compassion response to the cholera epidemic. Sixteen training sessions will be held throughout the country to raise awareness about the epidemic.
  • A new distribution of supplies will be made in Arcahaie (30 miles from Port-au-Prince) to seven centers where some cases of cholera have been discovered.
  • Special attention will be given to Compassion-assisted children and their families who were directly affected by the cholera. Food and hygiene kits will be provided to these children as well.
  • Psychological assistance will be provided to children who were infected by the cholera and have recovered.
  • Filters will be distributed to all families in the affected areas to allow them to purify their drinking water.
  • Chlorine production machines will be distributed to non-affected areas as a preventive measure.

UPDATE: Nov. 1, 2010 - Health officials have said there are signs that the cholera outbreak in central Haiti may be stabilizing.

The World Health Organization recently reported more than 4,700 hospitalizations and at least 300 deaths from cholera, but the rate of increase has slowed.

Seventy-six percent of reported cases are reported to be in Artibonite and more than 22 percent reported in the Centre region.

A delegation from the Haiti Compassion Office traveled to Lower Artibonite on Oct. 30 to organize training for the health tutors in Compassion-assisted child development centers and for the Child Survival Program implementers.

They also made sure the following supplies were distributed to all centers and families of the children located in the affected areas:

  • water purifying tablets
  • soap (to wash hands)
  • serum oral 
  • hand sanitizers

The distrubtion of awareness pamphlets and other materials to implementing church partners continues to be underway.

All Compassion-assisted child development centers located in the affected areas have been reached with training and distribution of supplies to help the children and their families.

UPDATE: Oct. 26, 2010 - More than 250 people are now known to have died from cholera. The total number of people infected is now nearly 3,500, Haiti's health ministry said.

A state of emergency has been declared in the affected regions of Artibonite, Central Plateau and West. The rest of the country has been put on high alert.

Medical facilities in the port city of Saint Marc have been overwhelmed. Hundreds of patients are lying on blankets in a parking lot outside of St. Nicholas Hospital with intravenous drips in their arms for rehydration.

The Lower Artibonite region, where the outbreak is centered, did not experience significant damage in the earthquake that hit on Jan. 12, but it has absorbed thousands of refugees from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, approximately 44 miles south of Saint Marc.

Officials say that poor sanitation is one of the main ways for cholera to spread. Normally it spreads when feces gets into the water system and people are forced to use water that hasn't been treated.

Nearly 50 Compassion-assisted child development centers are located in areas at risk, including Artibonite and Central Plateau.

The Compassion Country Management Team in Haiti continues to take action against the spread of this disease. At this time five staff members have been delegated to go to the affected areas to train child development staff on cholera prevention.

At least 60 staff members were trained on cholera prevention. The training also will be given to other staff, parents and children.
The following supplies were distributed to 30 high-risk child development centers:

  • gloves
  • soaps
  • serum oral
  • bleach
  • water
  • mask

In order to avoid massive contamination, child development centers are suspended until the risk is over.

Oct. 25, 2010 - A cholera outbreak in Haiti is affecting the area around the Artibonite River. The outbreak has affected more than 1,500 people, and more than 140 have died.

Most patients reported drinking water from the river. The patients are being quarantined.

The World Health Organization said the virulent diarrheal disease outbreak would be the first cholera epidemic in a century in Haiti.

The following eight Compassion-assisted child development centers are located in the affected area:

  • HA-322
  • HA-336
  • HA-612
  • HA-702
  • HA-749
  • HA-772
  • HA-814
  • HA-815

There have been no deaths among Compassion-assisted children reported at this time.

The center facilitator reports that three children have been affected from child development center HA-702 and they have been hospitalized. One child from HA-815 has lost her mother and an uncle due to cholera.

Additional family members of Compassion-assisted children and staff from the child development centers have also been affected.

The centers have provided purified water and tablets to children and their family members to help protect them. Center staff are also making home visits to check on the families and to respond appropriately.

The Compassion Country Management Team in Haiti has taken the following action:

  • Office staff have been educated about cholera.
  • An emergency team will meet daily to assess the situation.
  • Hygiene kits are being prepared.
  • Field Office staff members are visiting the region to help in assessing the situation.
  • Health specialists will provide special training to center directors and staff.
  • Water purification supplies and information will be distributed.
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