July 8, 2013
In its latest bulletin, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations, reports that “The Ministry of Public Health (MSPP) reported a significant increase in the number of cholera alerts and new cholera cases in June throughout the country. New cholera cases rose from 3,357 in May to 4,713 in June. This represents an increase of 40% compared with last month.
The largest increases came in the South – East and Grande Anse departments, where no cases had been reported over the dry season, which ended in May. The greatest number of cases occurred in the West, North, South East and Artibonite departments.
Experts attribute this resurgence to the advent of the rainy season in May and ongoing difficulties in ensuring acceptable levels of sanitation provision and hygiene awareness among vulnerable Haitians .
Cholera response continues, with major focus on preparedness and prevention
Overall, PAHO/WHO effectively restored health services following the floods in Artibonite, Centre and North, preventing the spread of cholera through the distribution of aquatabs and soap an d hygiene promotion. Other major cholera response activities included work by Médecins du Monde and Action contre la faim to support Haitian officials to distribute WASH and medical supplies, as well as educate people on the risks of the disease and how th ey can protect themselves.
MSF believes the cholera situation is less worrying than the same time last year. This conclusion is based on their experience treating 4,000 cholera patients to date in 2013. However, this apparent reduction is tempered by few er and often worse – quality health facilities in several towns where MSF operates, including Delmas, Carrefour and Léogâne.
Across Haiti, the number of outpatient Cholera Treatment Units fell from 71 to 13 between December 2012 and June 2013, and the number of inpatient Cholera Treatment Centres declined from 20 to 15.
These decreases – 82% and 25% respectively – do not correspond to the size of drops in reported cases, meaning treatment centres are closing faster than cholera has declined. Although some cholera treatment capacity is being integrated into general healthcare facilities, the vast majority of cholera treatment centres are closing because there is no longer funding available for the NGO partners who run them to continue their activities.
MSF hopes to continue to collaborate with national authorities to implement the national cholera eradication plan. With the approval of the Ouest health service (DSO) and the Ministry of Public Health (MSPP), MSF has built a new cholera treatme nt unit (UTC) in Carrefour (Arcachon 32).
Médecins du Monde assisted the Nippes health department (DSNI) in distributing WASH and cholera supplies to help contain the outbreaks. They have also undertaken awareness – building measures, and WFP has food suppli es if the need arises.
More than 15 new cases were recorded in the Artibonite department (Marchand Dessalines – Villard) between 14 and 24 June. DINEPA with the Artibonite Health Department (DSA) and Action Contre la Faim (ACF) are carrying out community ou treach activities, including disinfection. However, cholera figures released by the DSA for 16 – 22 June point to significant increases in Gonaives, Saint Michel, Verettes, and San Marco. The absence of health workers in these localities is hampering aware ness activities and decontamination of houses in the affected areas.
Fifteen cases and 2 deaths were reported in Belot (Kenscoff), the Ouest department between 15 and 24 June. In response, the Ouest health department (DSO)/PAHO deployed two experts to ass ist the nurse in the area and to raise awareness and strengthen capacity. In addition, IOM provided a tent for an oral rehydration point (PRO). There is further need for cholera awareness, WASH interventions and an additional PRO tent.”