July 19, 2011
Second Wave of Cholera Batters Haiti — Andrew Marx & Louise Ivers, Partners in Health


Back in crisis mode after the first wave of cholera swept Haiti last fall, Partners in Health and staff from its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante went from treating 3,932 patients at its clinics this April to a staggering 14,425 this June.

Andrew Marx explains:  “The reason for this spike is simple. Flash floods—a side effect of the rainy season, deforestation, and decades of ineffective foreign aid—have spread the disease among water sources. In the absence of water and sanitation systems, or in many cases even basic latrines, cholera runs unchecked…”

In a recent message posted on the PIH blog, Dr. Louise Ivers…underscored the urgency: 

“The Mirebalais cholera treatment center saw five times as many patients in June as in May. Alerts are the norm again—with emails and text messages reporting areas with minimal access to services suffering from high numbers of cases. Zanmi Lasante’s community teams are on high alert—spending hours on foot to reach difficult, isolated places, providing oral rehydration solution, training community health workers, distributing water purification tablets, disinfecting houses—but it is never enough….

“Since last year, we’ve been advocating to use all of the possible tools against cholera in a complementary and comprehensive way to reduce deaths and to minimize the impact of the disease…We are delighted that our proposal, in collaboration with GHESKIO (a Haitian, Port-au-Prince based NGO), to pilot the use of cholera vaccine in Haiti was supported last week by the Pan-American Health Organization. Now we have to set about securing doses of the vaccine and implementing the project with the Haitian government.” 

Learn more about cholera in Haiti and how it can be stopped: