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Haiti: Rains threaten revival of cholera epidemic


PORT-AU-PRINCE: Haiti is facing a rise in fresh cholera outbreaks as the rainy season threatens to revive the epidemic, warns children’s charity Plan International. The organisation said its current preparations for new cholera cases are critical to saving lives.

Water and health care critical

Nearly 5,000 people have died in Haiti since the outbreak of cholera in October last year, mostly due to lack of clean water and poor access to health care.

John Chaloner, Plan’s Country Director in Haiti said: “Since the beginning of the epidemic, Plan is making sure that vulnerable people, especially children, receive: free access to safe and clean drinking water; lifesaving rehydration treatments near their homes; and key public health messages.”
Working with government

In the North-east, West and South-east — three of Haiti’s ten administrative departments — the charity is working closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Health on cholera awareness, prevention and treatment.

Over the past months, Plan has delivered some 35,000 kits to families, each containing oral rehydration salts, soap, chlorine and drinking water containers along with instructions in Creole. The organisation has trained over 1,200 health workers in how to manage strategically placed health sites, where anyone who has fallen ill can reach trained health personnel and access lifesaving rehydration treatment.

Plan Haiti is also providing and installing 1,000 gallon Tuff Tanks (water cisterns) in hundreds of schools and community health centers to ensure sustainable access to safe and clean drinking water for as many people as possible.

Funding gap

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also warned that cholera cases could dramatically rise with the heavy rains expected between June and November. The organisation has drawn attention to a wide funding gap for the $125 million UN cholera response appeal which has been only 48 percent covered by donors.

John Chaloner added: “All-around decreased funding for cholera from international donors is causing concern that the NGOs may not be able to adequately fill the gaps that the local health authorities cannot cover. The impact will be felt particularly in hard-to-reach communities, likely to be worst affected during the rainy season.”

The January 2010 earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. President Michel Martelly, inaugurated on 14 May, has said that stopping the cholera outbreak as well as relocating thousands of displaced people from camps would be two of his immediate priorities.


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