Haiti: CAFOD bolsters support for fight against cholera

We’re stepping up our efforts to fight the cholera outbreak in Haiti, as concerns grow at the accelerating rate of the infection. Poor sanitary conditions and flooding in some regions as a result of Hurricane Tomas are putting more and more people at risk. Those living in camps in and around Port au Prince are especially vulnerable

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A father sits by his daughter’s bed in Hopital Alta Mater in the commune of Gros Morne in the Artibonite region supported by CRS/Caritas. [Dominique Chadwick/Caritas]

Earthquake-devastated Haiti is facing the most severe outbreak of cholera in its history. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease has killed more than 1,250 people. The number of cases referred to hospital has reached 20,000. An estimated 52,000 Haitians are now said to be symptomatic.

What we’re doing

We’re bolstering the work of our Caritas partners in the fight against cholera by:

  • Supporting the clean water, sanitation and health promotion work of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) within camp communities whose poor sanitary conditions make them vulnerable to infections.
  • Working through Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Gonaives to support the purchase of medical supplies for seven health centres. These supplies include antibiotics, oral and intravenous rehydration fluids, and sanitation products such as aqua-tabs, bleach, hand sanitizers and soap.
  • Supporting Caritas Port au Prince in their work distributing aqua tabs, and in their public awareness campaign in eight camps.

“Our highest priority”

“We are working with our partners to provide life-saving medical supplies and meet urgent healthcare needs,” said Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian. “CAFOD’s Caritas partners are scaling up all their efforts to respond to the challenges of preventing the cholera from spreading further. This is our highest priority, as prevention is simple, with clean water and regular hand washing. We are reinforcing our partners’ efforts because we know how vital it is to keep people healthy. We will continue to work with those on the ground to try to prevent any further spread of the disease as far as possible.”

The cholera outbreak began last month in the Artibonte region, north of Port au Prince. Cholera is easily treatable with oral rehydration salt sachets, but if left untreated it can kill quickly following the onset of symptoms.

The earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January killed more than 250,000 people, and left an estimated 300,000 injured and 1.3 million homeless. Our Haiti Earthquake Appeal raised £5 million, which has been used to provide water and sanitation in camps, as well as hygiene and health education.

The money has also been spent on helping people prepare for future disasters and on a permanent house building project.

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