Oxfam mobilizes public health experts in cholera-stricken Haiti
In response to the cholera outbreak in central Haiti, international agency Oxfam has mobilized a team of five emergency specialists to set up water, sanitation and hygiene programs for an estimated 100,000 people in a heavily affected zone. Additional staff will be deployed over the weekend.
“This outbreak of cholera is moving very quickly. We are very concerned about the virulence of it. Our response must be immediate to contain the spread of this disease,” said Cedric Perus, humanitarian program manager for Oxfam in Haiti.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Severe cases of the disease can kill within hours if left untreated. With prompt administration of oral rehydration salts, many people can be successfully treated. Those who become severely dehydrated require intravenous fluids.
“Our first action in Artibonite will be to provide clean drinking water. We have enough supplies on hand to provide clean water to 5,000 people within the next two days. Right now we are determining the resources we will need to meet the needs of the people in the zone where we will work,” Perus said.
The Ministry of Public Health of Haiti is reporting 138 dead and over 1,500 cases of cholera. The cause of the outbreak is currently unknown.
“This region, like the rest of Haiti, has a longstanding problem with poor sanitation and a lack of access to clean water. Our goal will be to provide clean water, toilets, and perhaps most importantly, educate people about good hygiene practices. Basic good hygiene is what will stop the spread of this outbreak,” said Perus.
Active in Haiti for over 30 years, Oxfam is currently providing clean water and sanitation services for over 450,000 earthquake victims.
Julie Schindall, Port-au-Prince
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