As of writing, there are no updated figures from MSPP (Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population). The latest figures released on 16/11/10 showed 49,418 cases of cholera and 1186 deaths since the outbreak began. The hospital mortality rate is 3.9% Cholera promptly treated has a mortality rate of 1-2%.
The rural camps, hardest hit by cholera are in the worst situation because there is NO relief aid presence and no UN presence. During this last trip it would take almost 5 hours to drive from St. Marc back to Port au Prince to try and secure supplies. We are purchasing ORS, water, and pedialyte (now absent from stores because we are buying so much of it). [REDACTED] gave me 10 cases of pedialyte and some other supplies, which is all they could afford because they feared an outbreak in Port au Prince. Finally, after running out of medications, fluids, etc. and being turned away from most all sources for medical supplies, including the UN, there was no way to help those suffering from cholera. It was simply too difficult to watch another baby die of dehydration and I came home to recover from the worst week I’d experienced in Haiti since the earthquake.
I cannot begin to explain how much worse the situation is in Haiti and how there is very little coordination of any relief aid or the NGO’s. The following is the mission statement of the UN for its mission in Haiti. It is not being carried out now during this cholera outbreak and has not been carried out since the earthquake, which is more than a failure to the Haitian people.
“The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors.”
I have shared all my findings with the CDC in order to give them as much data as I can gather for their investigators. I have also given our findings to the MOH and OCHA -mainly for informational purposes because I’ve given up the hope of obtaining necessary supplies. I wish the news was better and sadly the deaths will continue because there is little to no support available for those providers in rural areas. There is very little available in the way of supplies even in the larger cities now facing patients with cholera. I am contacting organizations here at home to try and get the ORS, which comes in small packets, donated so I can take it back on my next trip.
CNN’s twenty-four-hour coverage of the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, which took an estimated 300,000 lives, doubled the network’s viewership. This coverage undoubtedly played a role in the America public’s response to the tragedy—one out of two Americans donated money to aid organizations. But little reporting has been done since then that asks how exactly that money is being spent, holds aid organizations accountable to their promises, or investigates the American government’s development and economic policies in the country. These policies, argues sociologist Alex Dupuy, have kept Haiti frozen in a destructive cycle of aid-dependence and exploitation for decades, stripping Haiti of its self-determination. “For the level of tragedy, no one’s really being very honest,” said Michael Fairbanks, a development expert, of the American and international community’s rhetoric about Haiti since the earthquake. “[Haitians] are constantly put into the position of adolescence and being infantilized so they can prey on the charity from the rest of the hemisphere.”
The longer American news outlets ignore these critical and complex issues, the easier it will become to view their occasional jaunts to Haiti with cynicism: it’s an convenient place to get B-roll of tragedy and disaster. Their coverage increases viewership, but without a moral component of responsibility towards Haitians themselves over the long-term, such coverage is basically exploitative. And over time, superficial reporting on Haiti’s problems—which plays a role in soliciting charitable donations from Americans-will arguably make the media culpable in the very system of aid-dependence and misguided development policies that help keep Haiti poor.
Despite the huge presence of international organizations in Haiti, the cholera response has to date been inadequate in meeting the needs of the population. According to national authorities, the epidemic has already caused more than 1,100 deaths and made sick at least 20,000 people nationwide.
“MSF is calling on all groups and agencies present in Haiti to step up the size and speed of their efforts to ensure an effective response to the needs of people at risk of cholera infection,” says Stefano Zannini, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “More actors are needed to treat the sick and implement preventative actions, especially as cases increase dramatically across the country. There is no time left for meetings and debate – the time for action is now.”
Crawford Killian at H1N1 has a couple of sharp posts, first on his own learning curve on Haiti and what he’s concluded, and second, an eye-opening read on the results of various charities’ fundraising after the earthquake — ones readers may well have donated to — compared to the actual money disbursed.
The Canadian government, incidentally, has released an additional $4 million to fight cholera in Haiti. Much of this money is directed primarily for long-term projects for the provision of clean water and on education campaigns. Many aid agencies have suggested the need for funding has moved from mitigation and education to more basic needs, such as for supplies like intravenous solutions and antibiotics.
I will post the next update Tuesday or (more likely) Wednesday, or sooner if events warrant. For more immediate updates, I highly recommend Crawford Killian at his blog H1N1.
Praecipio International (HEAS)
On the ground, good sources of information and of course needing donations: