Haiti Cholera Update #4

According to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), MSPP (Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population) reports, as of today, 30 October 2010, there have been 330 deaths from cholera and 4,714 confirmed cases. This represents a crude mortality rate of 7%. Cholera treated promptly has a mortality rate of 1-2%.

PAHO also issued a statement about the release of supplies from the PROMESS warehouse near Port-au-Prince Airport:

Since the start of the current cholera outbreak in Haiti, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has distributed more than 64,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, more than 3,500 liters of intravenous (IV) fluids, and more than 180,000 antibiotic tablets to treat patients suffering from the disease.

PROMESS, a PAHO-managed warehouse in Port-au-Prince that is the main source of essential medicines and medical supplies in Haiti, has distributed these supplies free of charge to hospitals and health facilities, including many that are staffed by international nongovernmental organizations.

Hurricane Tomas formed over the Lesser Antilles today. According to Jeff Masters at Wunderblog, the hurricane will likely strengthen to a Category 3 or 4 storm by Wednesday. As of today, he writes, “it appears that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are most at risk from a strike by Tomas, though the storm could move as far west as Jamaica, or as far east as the northern Lesser Antilles Islands.” It goes without saying that a major hurricane would overwhelm mitigation and containment of the epidemic, as cholera is spread through contaminated water.

The pseudonymous Dr. J has more on the historical and political context of the epidemic.

The Washington Post reports on protests against Nepalese soldiers in the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the possible, but as yet unproven, link between the soldiers and the outbreak.

HaitiLibre reported “violent clashes” in the transnational market town in Dajabón, Dominican Republic, near the Haitian border town of Ouanaminthe. The market itself remained closed Friday, despite efforts this week by officials in both Haiti and DR to reopen it. Officials closed the market because of fear of cholera transmission across the border, and because of unrest last Monday in the market itself over the DR’s decision to ban the sale of Haitian goods.

HaitiLibre also reports on the Haitians fleeing the epidemic into the Domincan Republic. Over 500 persons have been returned by the Dominican border police.

Crawford Kilian at H1N1 raises a point about the lack of information unfiltered by Western/Northern media or the good graces of the major NGOs:

Out of all the billions poured into Haiti in the last decade, couldn’t some country like the US, or some NGO, have found the money to build a decent government website, and train Haitians to maintain and update it?

I know most Haitians don’t have computers, let alone high-speed access. But the rest of us do, and we need to know what’s going on there—especially when a crisis hits.

Instead, we all have to rely on a handful of overworked doctors and journos, and the very slick websites of various NGOs eager to tell us what good work they’re doing and would we please donate to them.

If PAHO and CDC and Partners in Health and Medecins Sans Frontieres and the other do-gooders really want us to know what’s happening in Haiti, then they’d goddamned well better find some money to enable the Haitians to tell us themselves.

Media reports on the epidemic here.

More resources:

Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance (Twitter)

H5N1

HaitiLibre (English) (français) (Twitter — English and French)

On the ground, good sources of information and of course needing donations:

Partners in Health (Twitter).

Médecins sans frontières

[UPDATE: corrected mortality rate]

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  1. Haiti Cholera Update #4 « Sister Sage's Musings

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