Cholera cases in Haiti expected to rise following 2-month fuel blockade
Cholera cases are overwhelming Haiti as experts warn the situation could worsen now that the country is bustling once again after a paralyzing fuel blockade that lasted two months.
Dr. Jeanty Fils, a spokesperson for Haiti’s Ministry of Health, said that people are returning to the streets and spreading cholera. The government is struggling to find life-saving equipment, including IV supplies, amid a continuing discussion about whether to request cholera vaccinations.
” We need more resources,” he stated. “Cholera cases in Haiti continue to rise. “
At least 156 people have died and more than 6,900 are hospitalized, according to the Pan American Health Organization and Haiti’s government, although officials believe the numbers are much higher as a result of under-reporting.
Fils noted that cholera cases were likely contained during the fuel blockade since gas stations were closed and many in the country of more than 11 million people remained at home.
“Now people are going to move around more,” he said. It could spread. “
Stephanie Mayronne, medical operations manager for Doctors Without Borders, agreed.
She stated that cholera cases will increase if people with the disease travel to areas with poor sanitation and deficiency in drinking water .
” “It’s like a match that can ignite a fire,” she stated.
The number of patients seeking help at Doctors Without Borders hospitals in the capital of Port-au-Prince have spiked in recent weeks, with more than 6,500 admitted so far. Alexandre Marcou (Haiti’s field communications manager) said that beds filled up so fast that the aid group had to open a fifth center.
Mothers hovered over their children at the new center on a recent morning. One mother rearranged the intravenous cables around her baby, while another pump her little girl’s cheeks to open her mouth and give her an oral supplement. Adult patients sat silently in chairs with large white buckets placed between their legs, balancing their heads on their arms. Some people ate rice and red bean out of small containers that nurses later collected.
Marcou noted that people can survive cholera if treated on time, but the recent lack of fuel and ongoing violence between gangs that has worsened since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise has prevented Haitians from reaching hospitals and medical clinics. There is a severe security crisis. Ralph Ternier, chief medical officer in Haiti at the non-profit Partners in Health, said that we are severely lacking in resources. “The epidemic is spreading quickly that vaccines are really what we need. “
A baby stricken with cholera receives treatment at a clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Nov. 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)
The Pan American Health Organization told the AP that it is supporting Haiti’s government in preparing a request for vaccines as well as to plan and implement vaccination campaigns. It wasn’t clear when or if that would happen. In October, the World Health Organization announced that there was a global cholera epidemic and had to stop the double-dose strategy. This announcement came at a time when cholera cases have been on the rise. At least 29 countries have reported cholera cases this year, compared with fewer than 20 on average for the past five years, the agency said.
Mayronne said cholera vaccines can be a useful tool, but noted that a single dose can lower one’s risk by only 40%. “A vaccine is not an end-all and be-all.” She said.
Amid the lack of vaccines in Haiti, crushing poverty made worse by a spiraling economic crisis and double-digit inflation is contributing to the spread of cholera because many are unable to access or afford potable water or food that isn’t contaminated.
Lovena Shelove, 30, lost her two-year-old son to cholera despite a kind neighbor who brought drinking water to try and revive the toddler after severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
“She said softly, “I don’t own anything in the house.” “I couldn’t afford to provide for the children. “
She is still in hospital with her 7-month-old daughter.
Cholera can be caused by bacteria in contaminated food and water. It is easily transmitted in unhygienic environments. The fuel blockade further exacerbated the problem as companies that supply drinking water were forced from their operations.
Haiti’s first outbreak occurred in 2010 after U.N. peacekeepers introduced the bacteria into the country’s largest river by sewage runoff from their base. Nearly 10,000 people died, and thousands of others were sickened. The number of cases gradually declined and the World Health Organization was about to declare Haiti cholera-free, but in October, the government announced that at least three people had been killed — the first death in three years.
Patrick Joseph, 40, was among the thousands recently hospitalized after he became severely dehydrated. He said that he doesn’t know how he got cholera, but that he believes it was from water he bought from a seller who claimed it had been treated. “I was afraid that I would die if my doctor didn’t see me. “
This feeling is familiar to Lucna Francois, a street vendor who relied on well water due to the fuel blockade that prevented her accessing potable water. The 24-year-old got so sick on a recent evening that she called a relative to take her to the hospital.
“I am dying,” she recalled telling them. “I was very, very weak. “
Fils, with Haiti’s health ministry, said another big challenge the government faces is that many people don’t believe cholera exists and are not taking measures to avoid becoming sick.
“Prevention, it’s a must,” he said. It’s more than just drinking clean water. “
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.