Haiti Cholera Epidemic Intensifies

By Haitilibre.com

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 17 — The cholera outbreak continues to spread. “We have cases in all departments”, said yesterday Nigel Fisher, coordinator of the humanitarian action for the United Nations in Haiti, “although the Haitian authorities this weekend said that only six of the ten departments have been affected by the disease” stressing that “According to epidemiologists, the number of cases will increase significantly”.

Assessment at the national level:

The latest assessment (cumulative) dated of Sunday, November 14, 2010 and published today Tuesday by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) reported 16,799 hospitalizations since the beginning of the epidemic, with 2,157 additional cases since the last official assessment of November 12 (+14.73%) and 1,034 deaths including 117 new deaths (+12.75%).

Port au Prince and metropolitan area:

In Port-au-Prince and metropolitan area, (Port-au-Prince: Carrefour, Cité Soleil, Delmas, Kenscoff, Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, Tabarre and Croix des Bouquets) reported 875 hospitalizations since the first reported case in this area, with 268 cases since the last assessment (Nov.12) (+44%) and 38 deaths, up 11 (+40.74%).

Note: Comparisons are made between the assessment of November 12 and 14, 2010. Official figures incorporate data submitted by departments to the Department of Epidemiology and now include the cases reported by NGOs and the Cuban medical mission.

More than 70 organizations are involved against the cholera outbreak in Haiti, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF), Medina du Monde (MDM-Spain), Merlin, International Medical Corps Partners in Health (PIH), Save the Children, as well as UN agencies and bilateral agencies. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) coordinates the Health Group.

The MSPP developed a national strategy to fight against the cholera epidemic. It aims to protect families at the community level, strengthening primary care centers already operational across the country. Currently, services for cholera are organized into three levels: the Cholera Treatment Centers (CTC), independent large tents with a capacity of 100-400 beds (Currently 1.000 beds for the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince); the Cholera Treatment Units (CTU), located in a health facility or in close proximity and have a lesser capacity than CTC (usually 15 to 20 beds) and Oral Rehydration Centers (CRO, 300 across the country), which treating patients whose prognosis is not engaged.

The facilities are designed to enable hospitals and health centers continue to function normally, while providing care for cases of cholera. They avoid that institutions be exceeded by the influx of patients and ensure that patients who have not yet contracted cholera can be treated. The need to establish these units has emerged with the experience of Saint-Marc, where health facilities were quickly overwhelmed by the influx of cases of cholera.

The humanitarians think that the treatment units and the centers of rehydration will be the entrance point for the patients presenting severe watery diarrhea. Either they stabilize their condition and will return home or they will transfer to the CTCs for more complete treatment.

Departments in the Northwest, North and Northeast have received kits containing sufficient medicines and supplies to treat 60,000 people for a month. PAHO/WHO coordinated action with MSPP to provide sufficient quantities of ORS in Gros Morne, Bassin-bleu and Port-de-Paix, in the Artibonite and Northwest.

The partners are organizing a system for collecting excreta in the CTCs and CTUs. There will be also a staff training to the fight against infections in the CTC and CTUs. They give instructions on disinfection, based on WHO guidelines.

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