Among public health officials and advocates, there is a heated debate on whether limited funds should be spent on vaccines against cholera or providing the water and sanitation infrastructure needed to stop the long-term spread of the disease. When United Nations peacekeepers first brought cholera to Haiti, public health officials proposed administering 100,000 doses of the vaccine to immediately save some lives but the Haitian government rejected the proposal. Now that cholera is still infecting Haitians more than five years later, researchers are adding new ideas to this ongoing debate.
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Everyone agrees we need to fight cholera. No one can agree on how
Doug Struck, STAT
December 7, 2015
he clinics were overwhelmed. Over just a few days in 2010, cholera had swept through the chaos of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Violently ill patients were packing wards, slumping in tents, and dying within hours of showing their first symptoms.
Dr. Louise Ivers, an infectious disease specialist, needed help. She and other medical professionals were working without sleep, besieged by a stream of weak patients struggling into the clinics.
There was a vaccine available. Although the cache was not nearly large enough — and still not fully approved by the World Health Organization — Ivers and others appealed to Haitian officials to allow them to distribute the drug.
The government said no.
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