More than 5,000 people have died of Cholera in Haiti and half a million have fallen ill in just six months. A cholera treatment centre with 25 beds is bulging at the seams with patients being forced to share a bed.
Poor sanitation is fuelling the disease outbreak and the government is now building its first ever sewage treatment centre.
The unexpected killer has made a terrifying comeback in Haiti. Cholera is contracted by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. This causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. All patients with Cholera symptoms are isolated in these wards and treated with antibiotics and fluids. As desperate as people are , this fast response has managed to slow the spread of the disease. It means fewer people are dying. But it’s a short term solution.
Haiti has been free of Cholera for more than 100 years. Scientific reports, including one published by the US Centers for Disease Control, ‘ strongly suggest” the source of this outbreak was a battalion of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal. They had a South Asian strain of Cholera which contaminated the Artibonite river in Haiti and beyond.
Poor sanitary conditions has sped the spread of Cholera bacteria. A million earthquake survivors are still living in tents, with no access to reliable sanitation or clean water. Solid waste is rarely treated. It will take a long time to create a basic sanitation system for Haiti.
But changing people’s habits through education is also vital to keep millions of people safe from this highly contagious disease.