Some 9,971 cases of cholera, including 643 deaths, have been confirmed in Haiti, the United Nations humanitarian office reported today, citing figures provide by the Government, which also said that cases of the disease have been identified in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Poor sanitary conditions in many parts of the country, floods and mud flows associated with Hurricane Tomas, which swept past the Caribbean nation over the weekend, are likely to accelerate the spread of the disease, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update.
Cholera has so far been confirmed in six departments (administrative divisions) and humanitarian organisations have mobilised resources since the beginning of the outbreak in October to support the Government’s preparations for a worst-case scenario – a nationwide epidemic.
There are now 15 cholera treatment centres nationwide, and public and private hospitals around the country have also been equipped to respond, according to OCHA. Assessment teams are determining where additional treatment centres may be needed, including in rural areas.
Some 15 water treatment experts have been deployed to support Government teams verifying water quality around the country, and nearly 500,000 water purification tablets are being distributed, particularly in areas where cholera has already been detected.
A large-scale public information campaign to make people aware of what they have to do to avoid cholera, an acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated food or water, has been effective, according initial assessments.
Camps in Port-au-Prince housing people made homeless by the catastrophic earthquake in January have been identified as particularly at risk for the cholera outbreak, although no cases have been reported there. Additional hand washing stations and latrines are being installed in the camps.
Significant additional logistical and financial resources will be required in the coming weeks to maintain the cholera response and prevention efforts now under way, OCHA said.